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The Lives, Habits, Customs, «Vc. of 
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I -.i;*i 

A Lowland Dusun on a Buffalo. 

This ungainly looking brute is a favourite steed, and can keep up a jog-trot for hours, when it is 

not exposed to the full heat of the sun. The animal is " steered " by means of the cord attached 

to the nose-ring. A saddle with a high wooden peak is generally used in buffalo-riding. 







Fellonu of the Royal Anthropological Institute 









British North Borneo — General Description — History 

— Government . . . . . .17 


British North Borneo — Population & Races . . 27 

Trade & Industries ...... 36 

The Tuaran & Tempassuk Districts . . -45 

The Jungle ....... 56 

Travelling Up-Country & Elsewhere . . .62 

The Life of an Out-Station Officer . . .71 


Races of the Tuaran & Tempassuk Districts . 79 

Dress & Adornment ...... 88 

Houses — Domestic Affairs — Government . . -93 

Agriculture, Fishing, Hunting & Trapping . .103 


1 2 Contents 



Food, Narcotics & Intoxicants . . . .112 


Courtship, Marriage & Divorce, Burial & Puberty 

Customs . . . . . . .122 

Musical Instruments, Music & Dancing . . .130 

Wealth, Currency, Trading, Markets . . • ^^35 

Manufactures . . . . .146 


Religion & Superstitions . . . . .152 

Legends . . . . . . .170 

Warfare, Head-Hunting 6* Weapons . . .186 


Races of the Tuaran & Tempassuk Districts . .194 

Agriculture, Hunting & Fishing . . . .201 

Dress, Domestic Affairs & Government . . . 209 

Food 6* Intoxicants . . . . . .221 

Love, Courtship 6* Marriage . . . .225 

Contents 13 



Manufactures . . • • • • .229 



Religion 6* Folklore . . • ' .247 

Weapons & Warfare . . • • • -253 

Antiquities ....••• 266 

The Chinese in Borneo . . • • • ^74 

Diary of a Journey to Mount Kinabalu . . .291 

A.— Derivations of some Tempassuk Place-Names . 311 

B.— Measurements of "Orang Dusun" .312 

C— The Malay Language . . . • .312 

Index ...•••• 3^5 


A Lowland Dusun on a Buffalo .... Frontispiece 

A Bamboo Bridge over the Kadamaian . . .24 

An Up-country View in the Tempassuk District . 48 

Gumpus, the Headman of Tambatuan . . . .72 

The Wife of the Headman of Tambatuan & her Favourite Pig . 96 

Dusun Women at work in the Fields below Tambatuan . 104 

A Dusun Family Party on the march . . .112 

A Dusun Fish-trap in the Kadamaian River . . .112 

Bunsud, a Lowland Dusun . . . . ,136 

The Dusun Organ 6* Banjo . . . .136 

A Market Scene in the Tempassuk District . . .144 

Dusun Priestess of Tambatuan in Ceremonial Dress (/fi?«/) . 160 

Dusun Priestess of Tambatuan in Ceremonial Dress (/'gfl!/') . 160 

A Dusun Man of Tambatuan in War Dress . . .192 

1 6 List of Illustrations 

A Head-house at Kaung Ulu . . . . .192 


Drying Padi in a Dusun Village .... 200 

Dusuns of Tempassuk Village ..... 240 
Bajau Village at Mengkabong . . . . .288 

In a Rice-field near Tambatuan .... 296 

Some Dusun Musical Instruments .... 296 

In Kaung Ulu ....... 304 

Among Primitive Peoples in 




THE country with which this book deals is the 
territory of the British North Borneo Company, 
and in particular the adjacent districts of the Tuaran 
and Tempassuk, called after two rivers that take their rise 
in Mount Kinabalu the magnificent, which towers up almost 
perpendicularly on its seaward face to a height of 13,400 

Borneo, the second largest island in the world, which is 
hazily connected by the crowd with the existence of wild 
men, lies, roughly speaking, south of the Philippines, with 
Java to the south, Celebes to the east, Sumatra and the 
Malay Peninsula to the west, while the Equator cuts almost 
through the centre. 

About two-thirds of the whole island, comprising the two 
Residencies of South-East and West Borneo, is under Dutch 
rule. The remainder is divided into three states : Sarawak, 
which occupies a long strip of territory on the west coast 
and has an English ruler (Raja Brooke); British North 
Borneo, governed by a Chartered Company, towards the 
northern end of the island; and the little native state of 
Brunei, wedged between these two, which have both en- 
riched themselves at her expense. The last-named is now 
protected by Great Britain and administered by officers of 
the Straits Settlements Civil Service. 

The first European traveller to give an account of the 
B 17 

1 8 British North Borneo 

manners and customs of any Bornean tribe was Antonio 
Pigafetta, who visited the city of Brunei in 1521. The 
name Bornei, by which he calls that old state, has now been 
further corrupted into the modern Borneo. 

The credit of being the first Europeans to discover the 
island rests apparently with the Portuguese or the Spaniards, 
somewhere between 1518 and 1526, but it seems uncer- 
tain to which nationality the laurels should be awarded. 
Possibly the Italian traveller Varthema may have visited the 
country before either the Portuguese or the Spaniards. 
However, there is little doubt that the Chinese had been in 
the habit of visiting Borneo at least since the sixth century 
A.D., and possibly much earlier, as in the works of various of 
their historians we have accounts of embassies which were 
sent from China to the Royal Court of Brunei, and vice versa. 

Trade followed, or perhaps preceded, the ambassadors; 
but, though old Chinese pottery and beads are found almost 
everywhere in Borneo, it is very doubtful if there was ever 
a resident Chinese population numerous enough to have 
introduced a serious amount of Chinese blood among the 
aboriginals, as has been supposed by some writers. But I 
shall have something more to say on this subject when I. 
come to deal with the question of the races and tribes 
inhabiting the country. 
I The total area of Borneo is about 290,000 square miles. ^ 
The island is very compact and has not many bays or* 
inlets, though there are a few on its north-eastern coast. 
A belt of mangrove swamp of varying breadth fringes most 
of the shores, and behind this are plains — not necessarily 
open country — foot-hills and finally the mountainous regions 
of the interior. Among the plains and swamps wind the 
lower courses of the rivers, which take their rise in the 
mountains, and eventually empty themselves into the sea 
through deltas formed of detritus from the uplands.^ 
• No land is better provided with rivers than Borneo, but 
unfortunately the majority of them are not navigable for 

British North Borneo 19 

I boats of any size owing to the formidable bars at their 

i The country is thickly covered with primeval jungle, except 
where there is, or has been, a considerable native population. 
In such districts virgin jungle is found chiefly on the highest 
of the lower hills, and on the mountains, while the valleys 
are filled with big secondary growth which has sprung up 
on the sites of old native clearings. Taking it as a whole, 
the west coast is far more thickly populated than the east, 
wherefore the east is much more given over to jungle. I 
I The climate of Borneo very much resembles that of the 
Malay Peninsula, but the island is a good deal less healthy, 
the north-eastern coast in particular having a very bad 
reputation for fever. As is stated by Guillemard and Kean 
(Compendium of the Geography of Australasia)^ Borneo, being 
bisected by the Equator, " is exposed to the action of four 
Monsoons, in the northern portion to the N.E. and S.W., 
and in the southern to the S.E. and N.W., but these 

^ winds become considerably altered with the locality." The 
general climate may be described as hot and damp, and 
though severe droughts sometimes occur, there is no true 
dry season. Roughly [speaking, the rainiest part of the 
year in British North Borneo is from October to February. I 
The total population of Borneo was estimated in 1905 
to be about 1,820,000. 

To turn now to British North Borneo. This state, with 
' an area of 31,000 square miles and a population of 208,000, 
is governed by a Chartered Company, formed for the 
purpose of developing certain lands, concessions for which 
had been obtained from the Sultans of Sulu and Brunei in 
' consideration of stipulated annual payments. The negotia- 
tions with these Sultans for the transfer of the territories 
to a Provisional Company were concluded by the late Sir 
Alfred Dent and Baron Overbeck in 1877. 

The American Consul in Brunei had already obtained 

20 British North Borneo 

concessions for some of the territories which are now 
under the flag of the British North Borneo Company, a 
trading Company had been formed, and, with a view to 
opening up the country, Chinese had been imported and 
settled at Kimanis. However, neither the settlement nor 
the Company flourished, and its rights were finally acquired 
by Baron Overbeck. Sir Alfred (then Mr) Dent visited 
various parts of the territories, accompanied by representa- 
tives of the Brunei and Sulu Governments, who were em- 
powered to notify the inhabitants that the rights of bothl 
Sultans had been transferred to the Company; European 
ofl[icers in command of small bodies of police were left at 
Sandakan — now the capital — Tempassuk and Papar; the 
Dent house flag was hoisted at the stations opened, and the 
new territories came, at any rate in name, under the control 
of the lessees. 

In 1 88 1, in spite of bitter opposition on the part of the 
Dutch and the Spaniards, a Royal Charter was granted to 
the Provisional Company which had been formed to acquire 
the rights of the lessees. The Dutch, who had previously 
done everything in their power to hinder the aflfairs of Raja 
Brooke in Sarawak, naturally did not welcome the formation 
of yet another British state in Borneo ; while the Spanish 
were displeased at the British obtaining any power in th( 
northern portion of Borneo which they considered withii 
their sphere of influence, as being in juxtaposition to th< 
southern islands of the Philippines, and nominally undei 
the Sultan of Sulu. Indeed the latter seem to have hac 
some title to those districts over which the royal house o 
Sulu claimed to exercise power, since the Sultan of Suli 
had for some time been subject to them. However, th( 
concessions from the Sultan were obtained while he was h 
rebellion against the Spaniards, and, as he did not make hii 
peace with them until later in the year, the moral rights oi 
the Spaniards, whatever they might be worth, were nol 

British North Borneo 2i 

The British North Borneo Provisional Association was 
dissolved on the formation of the Chartered Company in 
1882, when Sir Rutherford Alcock, Mr A. Dent, Mr R. B. 
Martin, Admiral Mayne and Mr W. H. Read, who had formed 
the Board of the Provisional Association, became the first 
Directors. The nominal capital of the new Company was 
;if 2,000,000 in £10 shares; but only 4500 fully paid shares 
were issued to the vendors, while £\i. per share was called 
up on the remainder. The actual cash, therefore, with 
which the Company started its existence, including ;^iooo 
received for forfeited shares, was only about ;^3 84,000. 

The Charter granted to the Company stipulated for the 
proper treatment of the natives, and provided that whenever 
a new Governor was chosen his name should be submitted 
to the Secretary of State for the Colonies for approval 
before the appointment was confirmed. The Company 
was to have sovereign rights within its own territory, but 
all dealings with foreign powers were to be conducted with 
the sanction of the Home Government, while provision was 
also made for maintaining the British character of the body. 
The Company's flags were to be the Union Jack "defaced'* 
with a lion passant in the centre, and the Blue and Red 
Ensigns with a lion in the fly. 

Such, then, were the beginnings of the new Company : 
a few European oflScers holding insecure positions with the 
aid of small companies of police, a certain amount of cash, 
and absolute rights over a large territory leased to the Com- 
pany by two Sultans who were practically without power to 
enforce their will in the portions of it claimed respectively 
by each. At first, however, things went fairly well ; settle- 
ments were founded at Sandakan, Kudat, Gaya Island and 
, elsewhere; while these three stations — the Gaya Island 
settlement having since been removed to the mainland and 
given the name of Jesselton — are still the most important 
towns in the Company's territory, though Kudat, the old 
capital, has lagged somewhat behind the other two. 

22 British North Borneo 

Luckily for the Company, the natives of British North 
Borneo are neither so warHke nor so well organised as those 
of Sarawak; consequently there have been fewer wars. 
The two most troublesome tribes have been the Bajaus and 
Illanuns of the west coast, who are by nature and education 
undisciplined robbers, sea-rovers and freebooters. In the 
old days the Illanuns were the most notorious pirates in the 
Archipelago, and their very name was a terror even to 
people living so far away as the Malay Peninsula, to the 
inhabitants of which probably a good many piracies were 
credited, which were really the work of the former. The 
Illanuns are resident in the Tempassuk district, while the 
Bajaus are found on both coasts, those on the west having 
settled villages, while those on the east live the lives of sea- 

From among the Bajaus of Inanan in the Tuaran district 
arose one leader to withstand the rising power of the Char- 
tered Company. Mat Sal eh, a man of good birth, partly by 
appealing to the predatory instincts of the more disorderly 
tribes, partly by trading on the natives' mistrust of the 
Chartered Company, which was assuming control of large 
tracts of country without consulting the wishes of the in- 
habitants, was able to raise considerable forces, and for a 
number of years gave the Directors many uneasy moments. 
Among his chief exploits, or those of his lieutenants, were 
the plundering of Gaya Treasury, a march on Sandakan and 
the sacking and burning of Kudat " Arsenal." 

By some Mat Saleh has been condemned as a treacherous 
and crafty enemy and a rebel against the government of the 
country; by others — the love-your-enemy-and-hate-your- 
neighbour party in Parliament — he has been canonised as a 
patriot saint, defending his country against the encroach- 
ments of a Company of chartered freebooters. Neither of 
these estimates is correct. He appears to have been a man 
of good presence, considerable activity and great courage, 
who, besides being a born leader, was possessed of consider- 

British North Borneo 23 

able powers of persuasive eloquence. Patriotism, in the 
sense in which it is understood in Europe, or indeed in any 
sense, is unknown among the native tribes of Borneo; but 
Mat Saleh well represented the prevailing Bajau feeling with 
regard to the new government, which was both disliked and 
feared, since it threatened to put bounds to the Bajaus' im- 
memorial right of doing exactly as they chose, and to their 
equally venerable custom of oppressing and cheating the 
natives of the interior. 

On the other hand, it cannot be said that the Chartered 
Company had morally — even supposing that its legal rights 
were above suspicion — any right to possess itself of its 
present territories. Except in the case of a few small dis- 
tricts acquired at a later date, which were taken over from 
minor chiefs in consideration of annual payments, the titles 
to the country were obtained from the Sultans of Sulu and 
Brunei. These Sultans were claimants to nearly all the 
territory which is now under the rule of the Chartered 
Company; but, except perhaps for one or two valleys not 
far from the present border of the state of Brunei, their 
claims were of the most shadowy description, neither poten- 
tate being able to enforce his orders even in the coastal 
regions, while practically the only tangible sign of the Sultan 
of Sulu's existence, as far as Borneo was concerned, were 
raids by Sulu pirates and the settlements formed, chiefly on 
the east coast, by his somewhat undesirable subjects. 

The Sultan of Brunei seems to have been occasionally 
able to exact tribute from some of the people of the west 
coast, but this was rather in the nature of blackmail 
extorted by war prahus. Natives who made themselves 
useful to him were often given high-sounding titles. He 
had absolutely no control over the interior. 

Naturally both Sultans were only too glad to transfer 
their doubtful claims in exchange for what was to them a 
liberal yearly payment, for they lost little or nothing by 
surrendering all rights in the territory, and obtained a 

24 British North Borneo 

handsome rent for what was of hardly any use to them. 
The Directors of the Company, on the other hand, were 
equally anxious to come to terms in order that they might, 
before starting operations in Borneo, have some sort of a 
legal document to flourish in the faces of those who were 
rude enough to say that they were little better than the 
pirates and freebooters whose excesses they professed 
themselves so wishful to stop. 

Thus the British North Borneo Company started to 
possess themselves of the country, without in any way 
truly consulting the feelings or wishes of the inhabitants, 
proclamations being merely read which announced that the 
territories had been leased from the two Sultans. The 
natives were for the most part too badly organised to oifer 
any resistance, and either, in the case of the more timid 
peoples, acquiesced without any thought of making an 
attempt to show that they objected to being summarily 
disposed of by Sultans whose suzerainty they did not 
acknowledge, or, in that of the more warlike tribes, pre- 
tended, with the somewhat subtle politeness of the Malay, 
to receive their unwelcome visitors with pleasure, at the 
same time wishing themselves well rid of them and trusting 
that something would happen to upset their plans. 

When, however, the coastal tribes found that the in- 
truders showed no signs of retiring, that the servants of the 
Company were attempting to interfere with what they had 
hitherto regarded as their legitimate amusements, that 
courts, police stations and other abominations were being 
established, and efforts made to bring the littoral at any 
rate under some sort of control, they naturally began to 
understand the drift of the proclamations, and to what kind 
of things the Company's rule would lead, should it succeed 
in establishing itself permanently. 

Naturally discontent among the predatory tribes increased 
proportionately as they saw their freedom of action menaced, 
and they only required a leader of some parts to set them 

British North Borneo 25 

in a state of open warfare. This leader was found in the 
person of Mat Saleh, who not only was successful in band- 
ing together the Bajaus and Illanuns, but also partly by 
terrorism, partly by cajolery, at one time managed to get 
together a considerable following of pagan Dusuns. 

The Encyclopedia Britannica^ which should certainly be 
unbiassed, in the course of an article on British North 
Borneo makes mention of the Mat Saleh "rebellions" as 
follows : — 

" The Company's acquisition of territory was viewed with 
considerable dissatisfaction by many of the natives, and 
this found expression in frequent acts of violence. The 
most noted and most successful of the native leaders was 
a Bajau named Mat Saleh, who for many years defied the 
Company, whose policy in his regard was marked by con- 
siderable weakness and vacillation. In 1898 a composition 
was made with him, the terms of which were unfortunately 
not defined with sufficient clearness, and he retired into the 
Tambunan country to the east of the range which runs 
parallel to the west coast, where for a period he lorded 
it undisturbed over the Dusun tribes of the valley. In 
1899 it was found necessary to expel him, since his acts 
of aggression and defiance were no longer endurable. A 
short and this time successful campaign followed, resulting 
on the 31st January 1900 in the death of Mat Saleh and 
the destruction of his defences. Some of his followers 
who escaped raided the town of Kudat on Marudu Bay in 
April of the same year, but caused more panic than damage ; 
and little by little during the next years the last smouldering 
embers of rebellion were extinguished." 

As I have mentioned before, the territory of the Chartered 
Company is administered by a Governor who is appointed by 
the Court of Directors. Beneath the Governor are the 
Residents, of whom there are four, the Resident of the 
West Coast, the Resident of Kudat, the Resident of the 

26 British North Borneo 

East Coast and the Resident of the Interior. Under the 
Residents are the District Officers, the Assistant District 
Officers and the Cadets ; the last-named are usually either 
attached to some of the Government offices in the towns, 
or temporarily put in charge of a sub-district — as I was — 
until they shall have passed their examinations in Malay and 
Law, soon after which, unless stationed in towns, they are 
raised to the rank of Assistant District Officers. Outside 
the Cadet Service are the Railway, Public Works, Medical, 
Survey, Telegraphs and Police Departments, while officers of 
the Cadet Service or speciaHsts are attached to the Treasuries, 
Posts and Telegraphs, Audit and Printing Offices. 

One or more European officers are stationed at the follow- 
ing places ; — Jesselton, Tuaran, Kotabelud, Papar, Mempakol 
and Weston on the west coast ; Kudat on the north coast ; 
Sandakan, Lahad Datoh, Simporna and Tawao on the east 
coast; Beaufort, Tenom, Kaningau, Tangkulop, Rundum, 
Ranau and Tambunan in the Interior Residency, while a 
Magistrate is also in charge of the Labuk and Sugut rivers. 
The chief towns in the Company's territory are Jesselton 
and Sandakan, the latter being the seat of government, 
but the Governor divides his time about equally between 
the two, and Jesselton is the headquarters of the Con- 
stabulary. The next town in order of importance is Kudat 
on Marudu Bay, and after this Beaufort on the Padas river. 
The means of communication I will deal with in another 
chapter. The territories of the British North Borneo 
Company extend from the Lawas river on the west coast 
to the Sibuko river on the east. 

A joint Anglo-Dutch Commission has visited the interior 
for the purpose of adjusting the boundary between the 
Company's territory and Dutch Borneo, and settling dis- 
puted points. All the islands within a distance of nine 
leagues of the coast of British North Borneo, including 
those of Balambangan and Banguey, are within the sphere 
of the Company's jurisdiction. 



BRITISH NORTH BORNEO can boast of only a 
scanty population, a very large part of the country 
being still under virgin jungle, especially the east 
coast and the interior. The low-lying regions of the west 
coast support a fair native population, a great part of which 
is engaged in the planting of wet padi. In the upland 
regions, however, where hill padi is the staple crop, the 
population, owing to the methods of agriculture employed, 
must of necessity be scanty, even should all available land 
be in use. 

The reason for this is that after a patch of ground has 
been in cultivation for a couple of years or so it will no 
longer give a good crop, and, in consequence, clearings are 
usually abandoned in the second or third year, when the land 
soon becomes covered by secondary jungle. After a con- 
siderable number of years have passed, and, presumably, a 
certain amount of humus has accumulated, the jungle is 
again felled and burnt, and the land once more put under 
cultivation, to be abandoned as before on the exhaustion 
of the soil. 

Possibly a remedy for this state of affairs might be found 
in terrace cultivation and manuring, but many of the primitive 
tribes who inhabit the hill country know nothing of such 
methods of agriculture, and would probably be slow to 
abandon their immemorial custom, even if skilled agricul- 
turists were to be imported as instructors. To put a stop 
to the planting of hill padi by enactment would be un- 
thinkable, as it would condemn about half the population 
of the country to death by starvation. 

2 8 Population &^ Races 

The people of the Httoral and on the more navigable 
rivers are, generally speaking, lax Mohammedans, those of 
the interior and the intermediate regions pagans. The tribes 
of the coastal regions are the most recent arrivals, and are of 
Malayan or Proto-Malayan stock; those of the interior are 

The natives of the up-country regions far excel those of 
the coasts in good qualities, the latter being usually boastful, 
lazy, tyrannical over those weaker than themselves, lawless, 
gamblers, borrowers and spendthrifts, their only merit being 
their fondness for sport in all its forms. The up-country 
man, on the other hand, is hard-working, thrifty and usually 
honest ; he has, moreover, a manner which appeals singularly 
to most Englishmen, since he has no trace of the cringing 
and fawning style of many of the peoples of India, which, 
should there be any opportunity, quickly develops into very 
slightly veiled insolence. He meets the white man with a 
kind of " man-to-man " manner, which at the same time is 
perfectly respectful. The best type of native both respects 
himself and respects you ; and, if you are of a friendly dis- 
position, the respect will rapidly develop into liking on both 

Nevertheless I do not want the reader to think that the 
pagan native is faultless ; he has his little failings, as most of 
us have, and among them must be mentioned a weakness for 
"lifting" human heads from their owners' shoulders — partly 
as a matter of sport and prowess, partly of religion — and 
a penchant for stealing buifaloes, which also is considered 
almost a sport; but I shall have more to say about this 
subject in another chapter. 

I have never been able to settle quite definitely in my 
own mind whether such difference in character is due to the 
fundamental difference in race between the coastal tribes and 
those of the interior, or whether the reason for the essential 
badness of the natives of the sea-board must be sought for 
in some obscure influence of the teachings of Islam on the 

Population &^ Races 29 

peculiar Malayan temperament. I cannot profess any great 
admiration for Mohammedanism in general, since it suffers 
from all the defects of an exclusive religion, but I am in- 
clined to think that we must not by any means ascribe all 
the shortcomings of Mohammedan natives to the religion, 
one reason being that, except for a very firm belief that its 
tenets are true, they pay but Uttle attention to them in 
matters concerning everyday life. 

It is related of a certain local saint — the story is told by 
the Malays against themselves — that when he arrived in 
Sumatra he found the people absolutely indifferent to his 
teachings, since their whole time was devoted to cock- 
fighting, wagering and the discussion of the merits of the 
various birds which were to take part in forthcoming 
matches. The would-be teacher's chances of converting 
any of the natives to a better way of life seemed poor 
indeed, until a certain Malay, wishing to obtain a spell or 
charm to say over his fighting cock to ensure its victory 
in a contest for which he had entered it, bethought himself 
of the holy man who had come to live near his village. 

Thereupon he took himself off to the wise man's house 
and besought him for a charm which would help his bird 
to win. The Arab considered for a while, and, probably 
seeing little harm and some possible gain in complying with 
the request, taught the Malay to utter the Mohammedan 
Confession of Faith. The Malay went away perfectly 
satisfied with this new charm, and to his great joy his 
bird, about which he had felt some doubts, beat its 
opponent, an event which he was not slow in attributing 
to the saint's spell. Not unnaturally he boasted to his 
friends of the fine new charm he had obtained from the 
wise man, the consequence being that the latter was over- 
whelmed with similar requests from other natives. To 
each of these he taught the same formula, and thus the 
Moslem profession of faith was soon heard on all sides 
throughout the country. 

30 Population ^ Races 

The first Malay, however, soon came again to the saint 
and protested against the charm, which had been given to 
him as his own, having become public property. The saint, 
therefore, to appease him taught him as a fresh charm the 
Five Daily Prayers, and once more the Malay went away 
satisfied. From that time to such a pitch did the demand 
for charms attain that the saint was able to teach the 
Malays all the doctrines of the Mohammedan religion under 
the guise of spells to be used in cock-fighting. 

The average Mohammedan native in the Malay Peninsula, 
in Borneo and other islands of the Archipelago is in a 
perpetual state of banyak susah (great trouble) usually with 
regard to money affairs. Needless to say, his troubles, 
where they truly exist, as they often do, are generally of 
his own making; but he seems to regard them as being 
due to continual bad luck, and he is always quite ready to 
transfer them to the shoulders of another, especially a 
European. The method he adopts is to " touch " his 
unfortunate victim for a loan, of which he seldom repays 
any part, and still more seldom the whole. 

I have heard Malays excusing themselves for their spend- 
thrift nature by saying that their Prophet — I do not know 
whether such a passage exists in the Koran or not — has 
said that " Orang Islam ta^buleh jadi kaya " (Mohammedans 
cannot become rich). It is no exaggeration to say that 
among young Malays, especially in the towns, wages received 
at the end of the month are spent by the second or third 
day of that following. When, however, the spendthrift 
advances in years, he often becomes penurious and grasping ; 
and, though his heart is as flinty as ever, makes some show 
of conforming to the observances of his religion. 

Altogether the Mohammedan native is not usually a very 
attractive personage. His manners are good, and, until you 
know him better, he seems to have some real self-respect; 
but this to my mind consists chiefly in showing resentment 
to rough methods of address, and avenging slights or insults 

Population &^ Races 31 

real or fancied. The Malay word maiu, meaning ashamed, 
is continually on the lips of natives, and especially of Moham- 
medans ; but for a man to be ashamed to do, or of having 
done, some scoundrelly action is rare ; he is only ashamed of 
having been found out. 

Probably the best that can be said of the Malays, the 
Bajaus and the other Mohammedan tribes of Borneo is. that 
they have a saving sense of humour and are keen sports- 
men. They will, I think, certainly manage to keep their 
place in the modern struggle for existence, just beginning 
to be felt in Borneo ; they may not be highly successful, but 
they will continue to exist, thanks chiefly to their rascality. 

To turn again to the pagan natives for a while. These 
tribes, especially the Dusuns, are the best native agri- 
culturists in the country ; they are, generally speaking, 
frugal and, at any rate at certain seasons of the year, 
extremely hard workers. They should, with the protection 
from raiding by the Mohammedans afforded them by the 
Chartered Company, and the suppression of intertribal 
head-hunting, be rapidly increasing, but I have considerable 
doubts as to whether this is the case. 

Periodical epidemics of small-pox, cholera and other 
diseases have undoubtedly done a great deal to keep the 
population down, but with the gradual opening up of the 
country these foes may be fought and vanquished. The 
mortality among children is, I believe, unduly high; and I 
cannot help having an uneasy suspicion at the back of my 
mind that the pagan tribes of the interior, being much more 
unsophisticated than those of the coa^t, may suffer severely 
both in numbers and vitality from the encroachments of 
civilisation. This to many primitive peoples is a deadly 
poison, and destroys them body and soul, bringing, as it 
does, in its train new diseases, intoxicating liquors, clothes 
unsuited to the savage, and which he does not change when 
they are soaked with rain, new foods, new restrictions, new 
customs and the destruction of old habits. 

32 Population &^ Races 

Unfortunately the process of disintegration and decay- 
has often been aided and hastened by the efforts of well- 
meaning but misguided missionaries and others, who, instead 
of attempting to arrest the progress of many of the innova- 
tions (e.g, the use of clothing), which have been partly 
responsible for the decay of savage races, have deliberately 
aided in their adoption, and have done everything in their 
power to break down old customs, religious or otherwise. 
Their fault has, of course, been that they have expected 
the primitive savage still in, or little advanced from, the 
Stone Age to turn himself immediately at their behest into 
a civilised man like unto themselves, quite forgetting how 
far back in prehistoric times it is necessary to go in Europe 
to find peoples comparable in their state of development to 
the uncivilised natives with whom they are dealing. Can we 
wonder that the results of their well-meant but ill-advised 
efforts have frequently been disastrous ? 

Things have fortunately not reached such a pass in Borneo 
as in the islands of Polynesia and Melanesia, and I hope 
never will. The inhabitants of those islands have until, 
comparatively speaking, recent times been absolutely isolated 
from all contact with the rest of the world, consequently the 
effect upon them of newly introduced habits and diseases 
has been overwhelmingly disastrous, all these disintegrating 
influences being let loose on them at once. The people, 
before they have had time to recover from the effects of, 
or accustom themselves to, a single disintegrating influence, 
have been immediately inundated by a score of others. 

In Borneo the situation is, I trust, more hopeful, for the 
tribes inhabiting the interior of the island have reached a 
much higher state of civilisation than those of the South 
Seas, being able to work, and in some cases smelt, metals. 

The brewing of intoxicating liquors is understood, one 
made from rice — though not a true spirit, since it is not 
distilled — containing a high percentage of alcohol. Thus 
they will probably be better able to resist the evils of cheap 

Population &^ Races 33 

spirits than peoples who have no knowledge of intoxicants ; 
yet the sale of cheap and fiery brandy, whisky, gin and 
arrack, the vendors of which are the Chinese traders of the 
gambling and spirit monopolies, should be stringently for- 
bidden. (In some districts near the coast the effects of 
cheap spirits upon the natives are even now, unfortunately, 
only too apparent.) The prohibition to be entirely effective 
would have to be absolute, since, if the sale of spirits were 
made an offence only to natives of the country, though it 
might to a certain extent prevent the rising generation from 
taking to drink, a native would merely go to the first 
Chinaman he knew and give him a present of five cents to 
purchase a bottle of gin for him. 

The inhabitants of Borneo are also probably fortunate in 
not having been completely cut off from the outer world ; 
for, though epidemics sometimes commit terrible ravages 
among them, they have not to fear, to quite the same 
extent as the Polynesians and Melanesians, the inroads of 
civilisation. Their powers of resistance to diseases, especi- 
ally to minor diseases, according to European ideas, such as 
measles, which have wrought such havoc in the South Seas, 
are fair, small-pox, cholera and dysentery being their greatest 
enemies; and I do not think that they will so easily go 
down before the generally corrosive influence of civilisation 
as their fellows. 

Still, I believe that, even now, the population in some 
districts is decreasing, while in others it is stationary, or 
shows a very small increase. Probably for a time this 
state of things will continue, and decreases even become 
more numerous and accelerated ; but I hope that after a 
period of decrease the tribesmen will become inured to 
the new and destructive agencies and will then be able to 
hold their own and increase fairly rapidly. 

The one thing which made me feel somewhat doubtful 
on this point is the sparsity of the population in the 
interior, for it has always seemed to me that where a race 

34 Population ^ Races 

which has been in part, or wholly, isolated from peoples 
in a higher state of development is more or less suddenly 
brought into contact with an advanced civilisation, a quick 
process of decay sets in, but that whether this decay is to 
lead to the final extinction of the race depends not only on its 
recuperative powers, but on the density of the population 
before it was attacked by the disintegrating influences. 
That is to say that when the scattered remnants of a 
population, which was always sparse, have acquired powers 
of resistance to new conditions and diseases, their fate will 
probably even then be extinction, or at any rate absorption 
into the more civilised race of invaders, the remnants being 
too few, too scattered and too effete ever to be capable of 
again giving rise to fresh communities. 

When, however, the population has been fairly numerous 
to start with, and where the vitality of the race is 
moderately good, we may hope that, after a long period 
of decrease, it may after a time attain a stable condition, 
and finally begin to increase again. 

A case in point is afforded by the Maoris of New 
Zealand, who, after decreasing continuously for many 
years — they should now be extinct, according to one 
writer, who, a good many years ago, calculating on their 
rate of decrease, estimated that the last Maori should 
have died some years back — are now actually again on 
the increase, a state of things which it is to be hoped 
will be maintained. 

Should Borneo ever become largely occupied by Chinese, 
it is not unlikely that a mixed race between these people 
and the natives of the interior would quickly arise. The 
Chinese bring but few women with them from their country, 
and those members of the race who are settled in out-stations 
at the present day have very largely married native wives, 
taking them from one or other of the pagan peoples. Women 
of the Mohammedan tribes, unless of bad character, they are, 
of course, unable to obtain, since a father would refuse to 

Population &P Races 35 

let his daughter marry a Chinaman unless the latter would 
turn Mohammedan, an occurrence which, though by no means 
unknown, especially in the Malay Peninsula, is nevertheless 
somewhat rare. 

A census of the population of British North Borneo 
was taken in 1 90 1 and another in 1 9 1 1 ; the former is, 
however, so incomplete that it is to all intents and 
purposes useless with regard to obtaining any idea of 
increase or decrease in the native population, many of the 
districts at the time it was taken being in such a disturbed 
state that it was impossible to obtain any estimate of their 

^The results of the census of 1 9 1 1 show how enor- 
mously the Dusuns preponderate in numbers over any 
other division of the natives. The Dusuns are not a single 
tribe, but an assemblage of tribes, or rather the appellation 
embraces large numbers of village communities, some of 
which can be grouped together as closely related owing to 
identity in dialect and minor details of custom, while the 
whole of them are roughly classed together as Orang Dusun, 
owing to their similarity in language, beliefs and general 
habits. Orang Dusun is not the name used by these natives 
to describe themselves ; the people of each district or each 
assemblage of village communities employs a different term, 
but it is a name — meaning people of the orchards (orang = 
people; dusun = a.n orchard) — used by the Malays to denote 
those inhabitants of the greater part of the interior of British 
North Borneo who appear to them to be of similar culture, 
and live in villages surrounded by coco-nut palms and fruit 
trees. ^ 



THE produce exported from British North Borneo 
may, with the exception of a few articles, be 
roughly placed under two headings : firstly, cul- 
tivated produce, the chief articles of which are tobacco, 
rubber, rice, sago, pepper, coco-nuts and copra ; secondly, 
natural products, vegetable or animal, either in a raw or 
partly manufactured condition. Among the latter may be 
noticed timber, cutch, gutta-percha, jungle rubber, rattans, 
beeswax, camphor, damar gum, edible birds'-nests (the 
nests of a species of swift), mother-of-pearl shells, trepang 
(dried sea-slugs or holothurians), sharks' fins (dried) and 
dried fish. 

The exploration of the country in search of minerals has, 
so far, not been a great success, though coal is mined at 
Sebatik on the east coast, and is used by steamers trading 
with east coast ports ; borings are also being made for oil, 
especially in the Klias Peninsula, but whether this product 
is present in paying quantities appears to be a matter for 

Gold is found in several of the rivers, notably the Segama, 
where dredging has been attempted, but so far gold- working 
has not proved profitable for Europeans. Copper is known 
to exist in one or two localities, but has not yet been 
worked. " Blue ground " was some time ago announced 
to exist on the Labuk river, and it was said that a second 
Kimberley was awaiting the attentions of capitalists; but 
the report proved to be incorrect, the formation not being 
diamondiferous. A somewhat similar story also became 
current with regard to manganese in the hinterland of the i 

36 \ 

Trade &^ Industries 37 

Marudu Bay region, but, though manganese exists, the 
attempt to exploit the deposits was anything but a com- 
mercial success. 

Of the cultivated products, estate tobacco is grown chiefly 
in the Darvel Bay district on the east coast and around 
Marudu Bay in the north, this industry being largely in the 
hands of Dutchmen. Bornean tobacco leaf is used for the 
wrapping of cigars, a purpose for which it is particularly well 
suited. Rubber, since the " boom," has been a good deal 
planted, and many estates have been opened up, chiefly on 
the west coast. The British North Borneo Government, in 
order to foster this industry, has guaranteed planters that 
no duty shall be levied on exported estate rubber for a 
period of fifty years ; while in the case of some companies 
it has pledged itself to pay five per cent, interest on the 
capital to the shareholders, until such time as the trees shall 
come into bearing. 

Land for rubber-planting is let by the Government on 999 
year leases. The labour chiefly used on the rubber estates 
is Chinese, Javanese and native. The supply of the last is 
somewhat irregular, and daily labourers are liable to desert 
the estates in a body at the rice-planting and harvest seasons. 
Chinese labour is, or was, almost entirely contract labour, 
the coolies signing an agreement to work for a certain 
number of years. 

With regard to the two districts of Borneo which I know, 
there were three estates in being — one of these had just 
been opened at the time that I left the country. The labour 
was Chinese and native, the native labourers being Dusuns 
and Bajaus, the former excellent workers and the latter in 
most cases the exact reverse. I remember once going 
^ round an estate in the Tuaran district with my manager, 
fairly late in the afternoon. He drew my attention to a 
gang of labourers who were all Bajaus. "Do you see that 
gang ? " he said. " Well, I put a gang of Dusuns and a 
gang of Bajaus on to weed round these trees this morning. 

38 Trade &^ Industries 

I gave each man a task of a fixed number of trees, and when 
a man had done his task he was at Hberty to knock off work 
for the day. The Dusuns finished — some at eleven, some 
at twelve, and some at one o'clock, but you see that most 
of the Bajaus won't have finished their jobs by five." 

The majority of the Bajau labourers are under contracts, 
these being generally made for a term of six months or a 
year, but a large proportion of the Dusuns are free labourers. 
The labour laws of British North Borneo require drastic 
revision in order that Bajau labourers may be protected 
against themselves; the actual contracts are fair enough, 
but owing to the Bajau's reckless habits he often becomes 
little better than a slave on the estate for which he is work- 
ing, with the exception that he receives pay for his work. 
Matters are now (19 15) somewhat improved, and most 
estates seem to be using Chinese and Javanese labour more 
than native. 

The usual method of recruiting coolies, as far as my 
experience goes, is something of this kind. The manager 
of an estate takes out a licence to recruit cooHes in a 
certain district and dispatches a recruiter, whom he has en- 
trusted with anything between two hundred and five hundred 
dollars, to obtain labourers. The recruiter goes and hangs 
about outside the gambling-shop — unless he is inside gamb- 
ling with his employer's money — and on seeing that a native 
has lost goes up to him and says : " Hullo, So-and-so ! do 
you want a loan to try your luck again with ? " The native, 
especially if he is a Bajau or Illanun, will almost certainly 
reply that he does. "Very well," says the recruiter. 
"How much do you want?" The Bajau replies that he 
wants ten, fifteen, twenty, or even thirty dollars, as the case 
may be. The recruiter advances the money with the stipula- 
tion that the native shall come and work on Blank Estate for 
a period of six months, an agreement to that effect to be 
signed in the presence of the District Ofl^cer. 

When the recruiter has obtained suflScient labourers 

Trade &^ Industries 39 

he, after a great deal of trouble, and probably some heart- 
searchings on his own part as to how he is going to account 
for the money he has himself lost in gambling, gets together 
his gang of coolies and takes them to be signed on. 

In the Tempassuk, where I was stationed for some time, 
the coolies did not have their contracts signed at the Govern- 
ment post, Kotabelud, but were taken down on foot to 
Tuaran, since they were to work in the district of that name. 
The District OiEcer, North Keppel, who resides at Tuaran, 
is in charge of the Tuaran and Tempassuk districts forming 
the northern portion of Province Keppel. An Assistant 
District Officer or a Cadet is stationed in the Tempassuk, 
and is, of course, under the former officer. Before leaving 
the Tempassuk, any coolies who had not yet paid their poll- 
tax for the year were obliged to do so ; and I found that 
almost invariably this necessitated a further application for 
money to the recruiter, the usual demand being for two 
dollars, one to pay the tax, the other for expenses by the 
way. The money borrowed previously had, in nearly all 
cases, found its way into the hands of the gambling-shop 

Arrived on the estate, the coolies were without money and 
without food, and moreover had a considerable debt to work 
off, though, provided they did not borrow still more, one 
which could easily be settled during the period of their 
contract, instalments not exceeding a fixed percentage of 
the wages being deducted monthly. Borrow again almost 
immediately is, however, just what they usually did; and, so 
long as their debt did not assume huge proportions, the 
estate managers were not particularly averse from giving 
loans, since this only meant that the coolies would have to 
work the longer for them. 

Facilities for gambling, if the coolies were unable to 
visit the gambling farm, were to be found on the estates, 
some Chinaman being sure to start an illicit establishment. 

Coolies who are heavily in debt often desert, but are 

40 Trade &^ Industries 

almost invariably caught, their captors, generally either 
police or native headmen, being given a capture fee. The 
deserter is brought up in court, and only two courses are 
open to the magistrate : he may either fine the man and 
send him back to the estate, the fine being paid by the 
estate manager, and the amount of capture fees, fine and 
costs added to the wretched coolie's debt ; or he may, if the 
coolie has run away before, order him a whipping with a 
rattan cane, the coolie's debt in this case — he is sent back 
to the estate just the same — only being augmented by the 
costs of the case and the capture fee. 

It usually comes about that unthrifty coolies, especially 
Bajaus, are still heavily in debt when the period of their 
agreement is over. They thus remain on the estate, often 
for several years, and by constant borrowings keep them- 
selves in a miserable condition. Should they run away, they 
will be brought back, fined, and the amount of the fine 
and any costs incurred added to what they already owe. 

Now, though I do not approve of the whipping of run- 
away contract coolies, it cannot be said that there is anything 
unfair in the contracts or the treatment of the coolies. The 
most objectionable feature with regard to Bajau contract 
labour seems to me to be that advantage is taken of the 
weakness of the Bajaus in the matter of borrowing money. 
That this should be so is no credit to the Chartered Com- 
pany. A short enactment providing that coolies should be 
free to leave any estate on the expiration of their agreements, 
however much their indebtedness, would place on the estate 
manager's shoulders the onus of seeing that coolies should 
not obtain such large or such constant advances that they 
should go home still owing the estate money. 

I well remember a poor old couple coming to me to ask 
for assistance, shortly before I left Borneo. They told me — 
they were both almost in tears — that their son had signed 
on for six months as a coolie to work on an estate near 
Beaufort, some four years before, "and now," said they. 

Trade &^ Industries 41 

"-we hear from a man who has just come from Beaufort 
that he is still there, almost without clothes and heavily in 
debt. If you can find him for us we will pay his debts so 
that he can come home." I wrote to try and find their 
son for them — they did not know the name of the estate 
and their informant had left the district — but I had not 
received an answer when I left Borneo. I often wonder if 
they saw their prodigal again. 

About the tobacco estates I know very little, since I have 
never been in a tobacco district, but from hearsay I believe 
that the Chinese coolies are often very badly swindled 
by their headmen or tandils. These men become very 
well-to-do, and on account of their exactions are much 
disliked by their compatriots the coolies. In consequence, 
it is not uncommon for a tandil mysteriously to disappear. 

Of objects of cultivation other than rubber, coco-nut 
palms do very well near the coasts, but hitherto their 
cultivation has been principally carried on by natives and 
Chinese. Pepper was some years ago fairly extensively 
cultivated by Chinese settlers, but for various reasons 
many of the estates were abandoned. There is now, 
however, I understand, some revival of pepper-planting, 
especially in the neighbourhood of Sandakan. Sago mills 
for treating the pith of the sago palm exist at Mempakol, 
but lately, at any rate, I believe they have not been a 
financial success. Timber, which is chiefly exported to 
China, is of excellent quality, two hard woods called by 
the natives bilian and selangan batu being especially worthy 
of remark. 

The natural products of the jungle are sought after 
by native collectors, the Dyaks, small parties of whom 
^ frequently come to British North Borneo from Sarawak to 
hunt for rubber, being especially expert jungle men. The 
Dusuns, the Muruts and other tribes are also skilled collectors, 
and bring dow^n to the markets, or to the Chinese shops of 
the out-stations, loads of beeswax, rattans and damar gum. 

42 Trade &^ Industries 

the last being collected either at the bases of the trees from 
which it exudes, mostly species of Shorea^ or dug for hi the 
earth around the trunk. 

Mother-of-pearl shells are obtained by Bajau or other 
native divers. 

Edible birds'-nests, made by the Chinese into soup, which 
is supposed to be a great luxury and also to have strengthen- 
ing properties, are obtained chiefly from caves near the coast 
or on islands, especially the Mantanani Group, though there 
are also caves up-country which yield them. In a good many 
cases these caves are the property of families of natives, who 
collect the nests for market. From those in the Mantanani 
Islands as many as four collections are made yearly, the 
Government selling the nests and taking a proportion of the 
proceeds, while the balance is handed over to the native 
proprietors and the collectors. White nests of good or even 
fair quality may realise as much as sixteen or seventeen 
dollars per kattie (ij- lb.) locally, but the Singapore price 
for first-class nests is much higher. Black nests — that is, 
nests in which feathers are mixed with the gelatine-like 
secretion of which they are formed — fetch only about four 
to six dollars per kattie locally, though when they have been 
carefully cleaned they probably command almost as high a 
price as white nests of fair quality. 

The British North Borneo Company does not itself 
engage in trade, its revenue — some of which, when there is 
a surplus, goes to pay interest to the shareholders — being 
derived from a poll-tax of one dollar imposed on every adult 
male native, the letting of the gambling, opium and spirit 
monopolies, duties under a somewhat comprehensive import 
tariff, which ranges from five per cent, ad valorem on im- 
ported food-stuffs to ten or fifteen per cent, on most manu- 
factured articles, export duties, the letting of public markets, 
royalties on certain products, tobacco licences, the sale and 
rent of forest-lands, suburban lots and town sites, and land 

Trade &^ Industries 43 

That the Company shall not engage in trade, which is 
forbidden under its charter, is, of course, an excellent rule, 
but for all this the existence of a Chartered Company at the 
present day is not easily justified. The fates and destinies 
of a large native population rest entirely in its hands, and it 
must be remembered that such a concern is not a philan- 
thropic association, nor has it the disinterestedness of the 
Government of a British colony: it is, if possible, "out to 
get dividends." 

Now I have not the slightest wish to make any charges 
against the Chartered Company's administration, much less 
against its servants in the East, whom I believe to be 
extremely conscientious, but I consider it a mistake to allow 
any body of men, who have monetary interests, to have 
absolute control over a large territory; for as long as human 
nature is what it is there must always be a temptation for 
the directors and shareholders in such a company to sanction 
— all honour to them if they do not — revenue-producing 
schemes which may be exceedingly damaging to the native 
peoples entrusted to their care. In fact there must be a 
possibility of those who are largely interested in a company 
caring little from what sources and in what manner dividends 
are procured, so long as they obtain them. 

Unfortunately it is not necessarily the case, though some 
officials would seem to think so, that the larger the revenue 
extracted from a country the greater the happiness of its 

The articles chiefly imported into British North Borneo 
are European manufactured goods, those designed for the 
native trade being in the majority of cases cheap, flashy, 
and made in Germany. (This was written before the war.) 
Among them are gaudily printed cloths of various kinds, 
beads, knives, toilet soaps, scent, tobacco-boxes, enamelled 
ware and mirrors. These are to be found in every Chinese 
store in the out-stations, together with various kinds of cloth 
of better quality, kerosene, soap, spices, sulphur, copper 

44 Trade &^ Industries 

sulphate, cooking pots, yellow soap, matches, thread, 
needles, etc., etc. 

Means of communication in Borneo are but little de- 
veloped ; but a narrow-gauge railway, of which the con- 
struction is extremely bad, runs from Jesselton to Beaufort 
on the Padas river, fifty-seven miles distant. Beaufort is a 
junction from which two branch lines start, one running to 
Weston, twenty miles away on the coast, nearly opposite to 
Labuan; the other to Tenon, the present terminus of the 
railway to the interior. 

The British North Borneo Company has recently raised a 
considerable sum of money by means of issuing Mortgage 
Debentures, and a portion of this is to be devoted to the 
reconstruction of the railway. An extension from Jesselton 
to Tuaran was projected, but this, owing to the war, has 
been postponed indefinitely. 

A telegraphic system links Jesselton with Kudat via 
Kotabelud, and also Jesselton indirectly with Sandakan via 
Mempakol on the west coast, through which place runs the 
cross-country line connecting Sandakan with the latter station. 
Thence the line is continued as a submarine cable to Labuan. 
Separate lines also connect Kaningau in the Murut country 
with Tambunan, and Batu Puteh on the east coast with 
Lahad Datu, the headquarters of the East Coast Residency. 

Bridle-paths link up many of the out-stations, especially on 
the west coast, one system extending from Jesselton through 
Tuaran and Kotabelud to Kudat, another from Kotabelud to 
Bundutuhan and the Interior. Wireless stations have also 
been recently opened. 



THESE two districts, with which this book chiefly 
deals, form the northern half of Province Keppel, on 
the west coast of British North Borneo. Formerly 
a District OflScer was in charge of each of them, but of 
recent years a senior officer, with the title of District OflBcer, 
North Keppel, has been stationed at Tuaran, the Government 
post in the district of that name, and an Assistant District 
OflScer, or a Cadet, at Kotabelud, the Government post in 
the Tempassuk district. During my residence in Borneo, 
except for a couple of months at Tuaran with the District 
Officer, I was in charge of the latter district, receiving a visit 
of inspection from my superior ofl^icer about once a month. 

The easiest way to reach Tuaran is by boat from Jessel- 
ton. Embarking in a Bajau prahu, adapted either for sailing 
or rowing, and pushing off from the iron pier at Jesselton, 
we have the prospect of some hours' journey before reaching 
the little Bajau fishing village below Gantisan Head, where 
a disembarkation is made. On the way we pass the mouths 
of the Inanam and Mengatal rivers, in days of " not so very 
long ago" the haunt of bands of Bajau "rebels." 

On reaching the headland the boat is left behind; the 
boatmen shoulder our baggage; we climb the steep sides 
of the long promontory, reach its summit, and descend again 
to the Mengkabong river — rather an inlet of the sea than 
a true river, which runs out beyond Gantisan Head. Here 
we find another boat with a crew of Bajau paddlers waiting 
for us. By cutting across the promontory we have avoided 
the long journey round it and possibly a rough time on the 
bar at the river mouth. 

46 The Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 

Paddling up the mangrove-fringed Mengkabong, we at 
length arrive at a large Bajau village which has the same 
name as the " river." This village is built entirely on, or 
rather over, the water : the pile-dwellings of the inhabitants 
are sometimes connected by crazy gangways, but the only 
method of getting about for more than a few dozen yards 
is by embarking in a little cockle-shell of a dug-out canoe. 

Arrived at Mengkabong, we disembark for the second 
time, and a three-mile walk lies before us ere we reach 
Tuaran. Once well away from the Mengkabong, we leave 
the Bajau villages behind us and pass into swampy plain- 
lands, the padi-fields of the Dusun villagers. As we near 
Tuaran we see the belt of trees which marks the Tuaran 
river, with Dusun villages straggling along its bank; and 
at length we arrive at Tuaran with its District Officer's 
bungalow on a hill, its police barracks, office and lock-up 
on the level ground below. 

The easiest way of reaching Kotabelud, the Government 
post in the Tempassuk district, is to take a passage in the 
small local steamer, which makes a trip round the coast once 
a fortnight. This boat puts in at the wooden pier in Usakan 
Bay, about seven or eight miles away from Kotabelud. 

Leaving Usakan wharf, the path passes over the hills, 
which lie in a ring around the bay, and dips again to the 
inlet of the sea called the Abai. This has to be crossed 
in a Bajau prahu, and during the crossing we have leisure 
to observe the columns of smoke which arise from near 
some of the Bajau houses, which are scattered here and 
there along the mangrove-fringed shores of the inlet. These 
indicate that the inhabitants are at work making salt by a 
peculiar process, which I describe in another chapter. 

Arrived on the other side, there remains a walk or ride 
partly over hills covered with lalang grass, partly below 
their bases along the edge of a plain converted into padi- 
fields, on the other side of which lie the Illanun villages 
around P'ort Alfred, formerly the Government post. Past 

The Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 47 

Fort Alfred we again meet with a little up-and-down 
travelling and finally arrive at Kotabelud. 

This settlement consists of rather under a score of Chinese 
shops, while the European officer's house stands at one end 
of a long hill covered with scrub and lalang. The upper 
part of the fort — also on the hill — is used as barracks for 
unmarried police, while the lower parts are protected by a 
wall of river stones built up within two fences of corrugated- 
iron sheets. Quarters for married police lie below the fort, 
on the side of the hill facing the Tempassuk river. The 
Government office is on the hill-side above the shops ; and 
below the ridge, at the fort end, comes the Bajau village 
of Kotabelud, in charge of which is Keruak, one of the best 
Bajaus I have ever known. 

From the top of the hill, on which stand the European 
officer's house and the barracks, magnificent views can be 
obtained. Seawards there is the mouth of the Tempassuk 
river; the sandy sea-shore fringed here and there with 
Casuarina trees, and the low, swampy plains which lie 
behind it, while away in the distance can be seen the 
Mantanani Islands, from the caves in which are brought 
large quantities of edible birds'-nests. 

Inland, towering up to the skies, is Mount Kinabalu, its 
seaward face rising sheer up, apparently almost from the 
plains, its black and forbidding rocks relieved only by two 
white streaks, made by waterfalls which plunge sheer down 
its face for many hundreds of feet. To the left of Kinabalu 
is the range of hills of which the great mountain is itself a 
member. This range, none of the other peaks of which 
approach Kinabalu in height or grandeur, is covered with 
big jungle and runs almost parallel with the sea in the 
direction of Kudat. The laiang-cowered foot-hills below 
the range, among which nestle a few Dusun villages, 
gradually die away into mere undulations, and these in 
turn give place to dry plains, and finally to the marshlands 
of the coast. 

48 The Tuaran &P Tempassuk Districts 

From the hill at Kotabelud too can be seen the Tempassuk 
or Kadamaian river, which flows beneath it, while its course 
can be followed with the eye for several miles towards the 
interior, walled in on the right by the hill ranges that 
separate its valley from that of the Tuaran river, which also 
takes its rise in Mount Kinabalu. To the right of Kinabalu 
lies a conical hill named Nunkok, also on the farther side of 
the Tempassuk river. 

Dusun villages, Piasau, the two Tamboulians and others, 
are dotted about the plains on the other side of the Tem- 
passuk opposite to our post of observation, while Perasan, 
the most inland Bajau village, which has the reputation of 
sheltering some of the worst characters and biggest cattle- 
thieves in the district, lies up-stream, on the same side of 
the river, and almost at our feet. The whole length of the 
Tempassuk valley inland is inhabited by the Dusuns, whose 
villages are mostly perched on hill-tops on either side of the 

Away over the swampy plains in the direction of Kudat 
runs a narrow bridle-path. Beyond the swamps the ground 
rises slightly and the traveller comes to the Bajau and 
Illanun villages around Pindasan, once the haunt of pirates. 
At this place the big jungle from the main range runs down 
towards the coast and the country is more or less jungly as 
far as Metanau, a Dusun village near which there is a halting- 
hut. Never having been farther than this point, I cannot 
speak of the country which lies beyond, but the path 
continues right on to Kudat. 

With the exception of the plains that lie between the sea 
and the range running parallel with it — of which Kinabalu 
is the highest point — the Tempassuk district consists of little 
but the valley of the Kadamaian river and the hills on 
either side of it. The farthest point in the district, at the 
divide over which it is necessary to pass to the Interior, can 
be comfortably reached on foot in five days from the coast, 
and with a little harder walking in four. From Kotabelud 

An Up-Country View in the Tempassuk District. 

This view, taken on the bridle-path to the Interior, shows the Kadamaian River far below. Mount 
Nabalu in the clouds on the left of the picture, and Mount Nunkok on the right. 

The Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 49 

the ground rises almost continuously as far as the divide, 
which is said to be about 8000 feet above sea-level. The 
bridle-path to the Interior, which is, in the up-country 
regions, cut into the steeply sloping side of the valley, 
follows the left bank of the river, winding in and out 
according to the contours of the hills. 

Leaving Usakan, a traveller would probably sleep for the 
first night at Kotabelud, the European officer in charge, 
judging from my own experience, usually being only too 
glad to put up any chance European wanderer. Coolies 
being procured, a start would be made next day for either 
Tamu Darat (seven miles or so away), or more probably for 
Ghinambur, a little farther on, at both of which places there 
are halting-huts. If, however, there is need for haste, 
Kabaiau halting-hut, nineteen (?) miles from Kotabelud, and 
on the river-bank facing the village of the same name, can 
be reached in a day's journey. The villagers were ordered 
to move down to the river as a punishment for misbehaviour. 
They have now ( 1 9 1 5) gone back again to their old village 
on a hill above the river. This, however, is rather hard 
going for a traveller who wishes to observe and note 
everything he passes. 

The fourth day's journey will take him on to Kaung, and 
here again the resting-hut faces the village across the river. 
On the fifth day, if he does not take the branch track to 
Kiau village, which is situated on the other side of the river 
on the slopes of Kinabalu at a height of 3000 odd feet, he 
should reach the last halting-hut in the district at a place 
called Singarun. 

This is built on a spur of the hills at a height of about 
5000 feet, and opposite to Kiau village, on which it looks 
down. From the spur a magnificent view of Kinabalu is 
obtained and, looking seaward, of the valley of the Tem- 
passuk. In fine weather the air is most exhilarating, but if 
rain comes on, the traveller, unless provided with warm 
clothes, will find it distinctly chilly. The only drawback to 

50 The Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 

the place is that there is no spring near at hand, and water 
has to be brought from a distance by means of a cleverly 
constructed aqueduct, built of bamboos split lengthwise, 
which are supported here and there on slight trestles of 

From Singarun, sometimes called Dallos, after a walk of 
a few miles along the bridle-path, the top of the divide 
w^hich separates the Tempassuk district from the Interior 
province is reached. Here in my time the bridle-path 
came to an end, not having been linked up with that from 
the Interior, which stopped short at Bundutuhan, or a little 
beyond it. These two sections have now, however, probably 
been joined. 

The Tuaran district, of which I have much less know- 
ledge than of the Tempassuk, consists of the valley of the 
Tuaran river and a strip of land near the coast, extending 
nearly as far as Jesselton. It contains — but can scarcely be 
said to be watered by — the Mengkabong, Menggatal and 
Inanam rivers. Farther back from the sea the country be- 
comes rugged, while the hills which divide off the district 
from the Interior are really a continuation of the range of 
which Mount Kinabalu is the highest point. 

Along the coast, to the northward of the mouth of the 
(Kuala) Tuaran, is an inlet of the sea called the Sulaman, 
into which there flow various small streams. On this inlet, 
and near its mangrove-fringed shores, are scattered Bajau 
villages, built on piles like those at Mengkabong. A bridle- 
path runs from Tuaran to Kotabelud, but the journey is 
made easier by walking or riding the first six miles to Kindu 
on the Sulaman, and thence, taking a Bajau prahu across the 
inlet, ascending a side-channel, or stream, and disembarking 
about a mile from the Dusun village of Tenghilan, near 
which the North Borneo Trading Company has fairly 
recently (191 1) opened a rubber estate. The distances 
given in this chapter are not, I believe, very correct. In 

The Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 51 

some cases they may be ^^ out " to the extent of a couple of 

Spending the night at Tenghilan halting-bungalow, the 
next day's journey will see the traveller reach Kotabelud, 
distant thirteen miles, after traversing a very up-and-down 
bridle-path along the top of a range of small hills. The 
boundary of the two districts is some little distance from 
Tenghilan on the Kotabelud side of it. 

The British North Borneo Company has recently been 
negotiating for fresh capital; this, if obtained, is to be used 
among other things for repairs to the railway, of which it 
stands in great need, and the construction of a branch line 
from Jesselton to Tuaran. At present a bridle-path, known 
as the Likas path, covers this ground. 

The Tempassuk, iaus Deo, has not yet been " developed," 
and both this beautiful country and its natives are free from 
the blighting influence of the European capitalist. Its main 
exports are cattle, fowls, hides, ground-nuts, edible birds'- 
nests from the Mantanani Islands, native -grown tobacco, 
damar gum, mother-of-pearl shells and a little wild rubber 
and beeswax. The wide plains of the district, although 
the grass is somewhat coarse, aflford pasturage for large 
herds of buffaloes and cattle, while a herd of mixed breed, 
a cross between Indian humped sires and native cows, is 
kept by Government. Little sure-footed native ponies are 
also reared in fair numbers, though natives pay little or no 
attention to the mating of desirable animals, both ponies and 
cattle being allowed to run wild until required for use. 
The buffaloes and cattle go about in big herds, and are 
only interfered with when the calves are marked by their 
owners, which is generally done by nicking or cutting the 
ear with a knife, each man having his own mark or marks, 
or when an animal is required for a feast, for training as a 
beast of burden, or for riding. 

The articles imported into the district are such as are 
calculated to be of use to the natives, or to attract them by 

52 The Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 

their flashy appearance : blue-black cloth for making coats 
and trousers, cheap singlets and shirts, ready-made coats 
and trousers, hats, belts, thread, buttons, beads, needles, 
German cutlery, cooking-pots, looking-glasses, parang blades, 
tin lamps, kerosene, soap, tinware, flashy jewellery, cheap 
brands of canned salmon and sardines, beer, Chinese-made 
aerated waters, tobacco, dried fish, shrimp-paste, rice, spices, 
gambler, betel-nut, scissors, brass tobacco and betel boxes, all 
of which, with many other things, are to be found in the 
Chinese general shops at Kotabelud. 

During the time that I was stationed at this place there 
was also a shop run by the Gambling Opium and Spirits and 
Pawnshop Farmer's representative. This retailed vile spirits 
and opium, and had a separate room set apart for gambling. 
Spirits are no longer sold at Kotabelud — a very good 
thing. The gambling part of the establishment was always 
crowded with lazy Bajaus, mostly intent on losing every- 
thing they possessed ; but several of the local shopkeepers 
and their assistants were also bitten by the gambling mania. 
I am, as a rule, very much opposed to any interference 
with the liberty of the subject, but I have special reasons 
for thinking that natives should not be allowed to gamble 
with the Chinese, or to buy drink from them ; these I have 
set forth in another chapter. Drink is not as yet much 
purchased by natives, with the exception of some lowland 
Dusuns, but matters are worse in this respect at Tuaran. 
A few of the Bajaus and Illanuns, and especially some 
of the chiefs, are opium smokers, but luckily the Dusuns 
have so far not taken to this vice. 

The coasts and river estuaries of both districts are in- 
habited by the Bajaus, a Proto-Malayan people, who are 
essentially maritime. They appear to be fairly recent 
invaders, who have driven back the Indonesian Dusuns 
from those parts of the country in which they are now 
settled. On the east coast of Borneo the Bajaus are 
still wanderers, sea-gipsies, who are born, live and die in 

The Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 53 

their boats. On the west coast they are settled, either 
building pile-villages in the estuaries or constructing dwell- 
ings on the land close to a river. 

They eke out a living by fishing, salt-making and cattle- 
rearing, and in addition they are padi-planters on a small 
scale ; but their crop is rarely large enough to support them 
till the next harvest. In the old days they were renowned 
as pirates, their name in this respect being only a little less 
dreaded than that of the Illanuns, another tribe which is 
found in the Tempassuk, but not in the Tuaran district. 

The latter are, like the Bajaus, nominal Mohammedans. 
They also are invaders, having come in their piratical craft 
from Mindanao, the southernmost of the Philippine Islands, 
but are much more recent arrivals than the Bajaus. They 
formerly had a settlement in the Tuaran district, but the 
Dusuns made things so uncomfortable for them, by hanging 
about and cutting off stragglers, that they eventually aban 
doned it. At present their villages in the Tempassuk are 
to be found near Fort Alfred, and around and beyond 

The Dusuns, an Indonesian people, with a slight penchant 
for head-hunting, inhabit the plain-lands, foot-hills and upland 
.regions of both districts. They are excellent agriculturists 
and generally hard workers, hospitable, though somewhat 
given to drunkenness, peaceful, and even rather cowardly, 
in spite of their head-hunting exploits. 

I have so far spoken of Dusuns and Bajaus as if these 
were the names of two tribes or peoples, and they certainly 
are the names by which they are generally known to the 
Malays and other strangers in the country, but they are not 
the designations which they apply to themselves. The 
Bajaus call themselves Orang Sama or Sama men. The 
tribe which we speak of as Dusun or Dusuns is known 
to the Malays by that name, which means the "people of 
the orchards," to the Bajaus of the Tempassuk as Idaan, 
and to the Sulus (or Suluks) as Sun Dyaks. In the 

54 The Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 

Tempassuk the Dusuns call themselves Tindai, but the 
people of Tuaran, or at least the inhabitants of the villages 
near the Government post, seem to dub themselves Suang 
Latud (men of the country?). The up-country people of 
the Tuaran district I have not visited, but I believe that 
they also acknowledge Tindal as a designation. 

According to the census of 191 1, the native population of 
the two districts by race was — 

Tuaran District 

Bajaus .... Sfi^Z 
Dusuns .... 16,785 
Illanuns .... 7 

Tempassuk District 

Bajaus .... 3,448 
Illanuns .... 1,299 

Dusuns . . . . 10,256 

In addition there were in the Tuaran district: Europeans 
3, Chinese 495 (many employed as coolies on rubber 
estates), Japanese i, Philippines 6, natives of India 4, natives 
of Netherlands East Indies 2, natives of the Sulu Archipelago 
9, Bruneis 54, Dyaks 14, Muruts 3, Tidongs i. 

In the Tempassuk district: Europeans i, Chinese 62, 
Philippines 3, Malays i, natives of India 2, natives of 
Netherlands East Indies 15, natives of Sulu Archipelago 
21, Bruneis 8, Dyaks 26, Muruts 6, Orang Sungei 4. 

The total population of the Tuaran district was 23,067; 
that of the Tempassuk 15,152. 

Since the rubber boom three estates have been opened 
in the Tuaran district, worked partly with Chinese contract 
labour, partly with locally recruited natives. Of these three 
the North Borneo Trading Company owns two, one on the 
Damit river near Tuaran, the other at Tenghilan. The 
third estate, belonging to the Beaufort Borneo Rubber 
Company, is at Menggatal. Probably the labour question 

The Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 55 

and high prices will be the greatest difficulties with which 
Bornean rubber planters will have to contend. Native 
labour is insufficient in quantity and unreliable. Among 
the Chinese Borneo has rather a bad name, and the Indian 
Government will not allow its subjects to be recruited for 
labour in the country. 

The Tempassuk district is policed by a force of about 
twenty native constables, who are armed with carbines. 
The native police are recruited from any of the tribes of 
Borneo, and at the time I was stationed in the district the 
following were represented : — Sea Dyaks, Dusuns, Muruts, 
Bajaus, Illanuns and Orang Sungei, the Dyaks being in 
the majority over the members of any other tribe. At 
Tuaran also there were formerly only native police, but, 
owing to the threatening attitude of newly imported Chinese 
coolies on the Sungei Damit Estate, a small number of Indian 
police were stationed there shortly before I left the country, 
but they have now been withdrawn. 

I will here set down clearly that when in the succeeding 
chapters of this book I speak of Tuaran or the natives of 
Tuaran, I mean, unless otherwise stated, the part of the 
district around the Government post and the inhabitants 
of the neighbouring villages. I have never visited the 
Ulu (head-waters of the) Tuaran, though I have met many 
natives of that region, as they frequently come into the 
Tempassuk district to trade. I believe that their manners 
and customs are very similar to those of the up-country 
Dusuns of the Tempassuk. 



WHAT is the average stay-at-home reader's idea of 
an Eastern jungle? Judging by what I can re- 
member of my own early impressions, gathered 
from reading various books of travel, I believe that I pictured 
a dark and gloomy forest where the light of day hardly 
penetrated, and where walking was almost an impossibility. 
This sombre scene was relieved by the presence of gorgeously 
coloured and strongly perfumed flowers depending from trail- 
ing creepers which hung from tree to tree. In addition to 
the flowers there were brilliantly plumaged birds, which flitted 
from bough to bough before the traveller, while troops of 
monkeys chattered and screamed among the branches over- 
head. Enormous butterflies with jewelled wings sailed 
across the open spaces in the forest, and gigantic horned 
beetles watched the intruder from every log of rotting 
wood. Pythons curled themselves round branches overhang- 
ing the only track, herds of tapirs, pig or deer, frightened 
at the approach of human beings, stampeded through the 
undergrowth of graceful palms and tree ferns which reared 
their heads on all sides, and the atmosphere was that of a 
hot-house in Kew Gardens. 

The reality is apt to be somewhat disappointing, as, though 
there are plenty of interesting objects, the beautiful birds and 
flowers refuse to display themselves, nor are herds of game 
or enormous snakes commonly met with in the jungle. As 
a matter of fact, though there are some lovely flowers, 
especially orchids, they are rarely seen, and an Eastern jungle 
can show us nothing which can compare with the spectacle 
of an English wood carpeted with primroses, hyacinths or 


The Jungle 57 

anemones. Graceful palms, rattans, creepers and enormous 
buttressed tree-trunks constitute its chief charm, but the 
foliage in general is of a rather sombre hue and never shows 
the glories of late spring or autumn in England. 

Birds, as has been remarked above, are little seen, but 
if we listen for a while they will probably be heard calling 
gently in the thick undergrowth or in the mass of foliage 
overhead. Sometimes as we are poling up a narrow river 
shut in by the jungle on either bank a gorgeous kingfisher 
will dart away ahead of us, or we may hear a sound like 
that of an axe ringing on wood, followed by several deep- 
voiced chuckles and the creak of wings, as a hornbill of the 
kind which the Malays call Burong tebang mentua flies off at 
our approach. 

The name means "the bird who felled his mother-in-law," 
and a legend tells how a man once went to his mother-in-law 
to borrow some salt, and that on being refused he flew into a 
rage and chopped through the posts of her house, bringing 
it to the ground. When the house fell he went into fits of 
laughter, and for these impious actions he was transformed 
into a bird, whose note, as a warning to mankind, resembles 
the sound of a man working w^ith an axe and laughing. The 
crooning note of green pigeons, the kind which are caught 
with call-bamboos, is also often heard. 

Butterflies there are in plenty in the open spaces, particu- 
larly, I think, in clearings near secondary jungle — />. jungle 
which has been felled once and has grown up again. In the 
Tempassuk district the bridle-path leading to the Interior is 
a favourite haunt of theirs. Wherever a trickle of water 
crosses the path butterflies swarm; in some places dozens of 
yellows and whites, all busy drinking up the moisture; in 
others species with the outer sides of the wings like dead 
leaves, but with reddish brown colouring within ; handsome 
fellows with black wings marked with patches of blue ; 
swallow-tails yellow and black or green and black ; enormous 
insects chiefly black, but with patches of brilliant yellow — all 

58 The Jungle 

these are to be seen. Many of the most beautiful butter- 
flies, like the EngHsh Purple Emperor, have a taste for very 
unsavoury food, and the filth under native houses, dead 
animals or buffalo dung are all fruitful hunting grounds for 
the entomologist. 

Big game is seldom met with in the jungle. Deer and 
pigs have a liking for the neighbourhood of native gardens 
or padi-fields, much to the detriment of the crops and the 
annoyance of the owners. Timbadau, a kind of wild cattle 
(^Bos sondaiacus)^ are found in the Tempassuk in the big 
jungle around Metanau, which lies beyond Pindasan, and 
there may be an occasional rhinoceros on the range which 
runs from Kinabalu in the direction of Kudat. Elephants 
are not found on the west coast. The muntjac or barking 
deer and the mouse deer are common. 

Snakes are to be met with but rarely, though occasionally 
one may be seen swimming a stream or gliding away through 
the undergrowth. 

Two kinds of animals in the jungle force themselves on 
every traveller's attention; these are leeches and ants. The 
former are the most insistent, but they can be warded off to 
a certain extent by wearing putties. Leeches are found in 
damp places, chiefly on decaying leaves; here they often 
form little colonies and when somebody has passed near 
them may be watched standing on end and reaching out in 
all directions in search of an unwilling host. Their pertin- 
acity is marvellous : they will mount a boot and either climb 
straight away till they reach the leg, or will march with their 
loping gait to the eyelets of the boots, squeeze through 
one of these, and then chmb up inside till they get to the top, 
and so over the sock until they reach their feeding ground ; 
or if there should happen to be a hole in the sock — not an 
unknown thing among Bornean bachelors — they will find it 
at once, and begin blood-sucking. 

I can well remember my feeling of disgust the first time 
that I turned down one of my socks and saw a full-fed leech. 

The Jungle 59 

which looked more like a small black grape than anything 
else I can think of. Sometimes a leech-bite is felt quite 
sharply, but if one attacks any part of the body which is 
not well supplied with nerves, the first intimation that the 
creature has been at work is a gradually spreading crimson 
stain on the clothes, the leech having fed to the full and 
dropped off. It is advisable never to pull a leech away, as, 
if this is done, a bite often refuses to heal — I believe 
through the animal leaving its jaws in the wound. I 
generally get rid of them by lighting a cigarette and putting 
the burning end on their backs, but I have seen Dyaks 
carrying some salt for the purpose, which they had tied up 
in a little screw of rag. This when moistened and applied to 
a leech makes it let go very quickly. 

Ants do not as a rule give much trouble unless provisions 
are carelessly left exposed or are not packed in ant-proof 
receptacles; but jam, open tins of sugar, or condensed milk, 
if not placed in a saucer of water, will in about half-an-hour 
become alive with them. Two kinds of ant commonly met 
with have very painful bites : one is the fire ant or semut api 
(Malay), which goes in processions, the other a species of 
large red ant called kerengga by the Malays, which builds 
nests among the foliage of the smaller trees. 

Small jungle-crabs are sometimes seen scuttling over the 
leaves near the banks of a stream, while centipedes and 
scorpions are also to be found, but I have seen the former 
more commonly in houses than elsewhere, and with the latter 
I have only had one little adventure, though I have occasion- 
ally come across them. MiUipedes are common and attain a 
large size; in the Malay States I have seen a mass of, I 
should think, several hundreds of them collected together in 
one place. A Sakai who was with me at the time said that 
it was a mother with young, and certainly one was consider- 
ably larger than the rest and of a rather red colour, while 
all the others were greyish. Sometimes curious frogs are 
met with ; these have two projecting horns over the eyes and 

6o The Jungle 

markings and a coloration which makes them look like dead 

Borneo produces some very fine hard-wood timbers, and 
among the best of them are two kinds called salangan batu 
and bilian. Rita is a soft wood, which, undressed, makes 
excellent timber for rafters under thatch and for other parts 
of buildings where it is not exposed to damp. Its only draw- 
back is that it sometimes becomes riddled with, and weakened 
by, the burrows of a species of large boring bee, which is 
very fond of using it as a nesting-place. The stems of the 
nibong and bayas palms, as they are called in Malay, split 
into lengths, are used for the flooring of houses and small 
bridges. Large bamboos hacked longitudinally here and 
there with a parang (chopping knife), cut along one side, 
and spread out in sheets, form the walls or floors of native 
houses. The leaves of the sago palm and of the nipa are 
made into " attaps " for thatching. The bark of one tree, 
which I believe is a species of Artocarpus^ is used for 
making rope, and that of another for the sides of padi bins. 

Bamboo has, of course, hundreds of uses other than for 
walling and flooring houses; rafts are formed from large 
stems, and sections are used for water vessels ; the posts of 
temporary houses, bridges, fish-traps, boxes, combs, hats are 
all made from this most useful plant. The various kinds of 
rattan canes found in the jungle are perhaps only second to 
bamboo in their usefulness. The rattan palm has graceful 
feathery leaves, the petioles of which are covered with hook- 
like recurved thorns. Long runners hang down from the 
stem and these when split form the rattan cane of commerce. 
The natives use rattans for basket-work, for cord, for bind- 
ing together the posts and beams of houses, and in many 
other ways. 

In big jungle the atmosphere is apt to be distinctly chilly 
at nights, and also in the early mornings before the mists 
have risen. Sunlight does not find its way between the 

The Jungle 6 1 

leaves of the trees sufficiently during the daytime to make 
the wearing of a hat necessary, but it is quite hot enough 
for half-an-hour's hard walking to cause free perspiration. 

The Malays recognise three kinds of jungle: big or virgin 
jungle, which they call rimha\ secondary growth or belukar^ 
which has grown up on the site of old clearings ; and bush 
jungle (semdk). The semak stage precedes the growth of 
helukar on a clearing which has been abandoned. If the 
soil is good, small secondary jungle should arise in five 
years and reach its maturity in about thirty. After this 
I the soft-wood trees which abound in helukar begin to die 
out, giving place to that hard-wood species which is pre- 
dominant in big jungle. Probably true big jungle would 
not be produced for at least a hundred years, possibly 
much more. 

The trees in an Eastern forest are of so many species that 
even a botanist who had resided for years in the country 
would be hard put to it to identify at sight all that might 
[ be pointed out to him. Beautiful tree ferns are common in 
the higher regions of the Tempassuk district, while epiphytes 
and trailing creepers are everywhere. In some places 
bamboo forest is met with, and the stems of these giant 
grasses are then cut, made into rafts and floated down to 
the plains, where they can be sold profitably. 



BORNEO is no land for the globe-trotter; facilities 
for travel are nil, and roads, outside the towns, do 
not exist; it is true there are bridle-paths, but 
these are often very rough, and are of course impassable 
for vehicles of all kinds. It is necessary, therefore, to 
travel either on foot or horseback, preferably the latter, as 
the little Sulu ponies, bred in the country, are as sure-footed 
as cats. 

Natives, most of whom ride buifaloes, follow tracks which 
have been used from time immemorial, as these heavy 
animals are not allowed on the bridle-paths for reasons 
sufficiently obvious to anyone who has ever seen a buifalo 
track in wet weather. Owing to their peculiar blundering, 
jumping gait when going over heavy ground, buffaloes will 
soon reduce a decent path to a series of deep rectangular 
holes, each separated from the next by a narrow razor-back 
ridge of mud. It is usually best when following a path 
much used by these animals not to stride from ridge to ridge, 
but to push along on one or other side of the track, as 
an unlucky step on an apparently firm-looking ridge will 
land you up to your knees in mud and water, with a separate 
hole for each leg — I know this from personal experience. 

Walking along a track or bridle-path in jungle country 
is not all unpleasant, as there is sufficient shade to be a 
protection from the heat of the sun; but a march from, 
say, Kotabelud to Pindasan over sun-scorched plains and 
marsh-lands is by no means so pleasant, especially if the 
sun is full on the back. Hence on a journey of this kind 
it is advisable to start as early as possible, preferably at 


Travelling Up-Country &^ Elsewhere 63 

daybreak or before, as the sun will be high enough to be 
unpleasant by about nine o'clock. 

To those who, like myself, are not expert equestrians, 
a well-trained water-buifalo is by no means a steed to be 
despised, as being quite a difficult beast to fall off. An 
animal with a nice even gait is quite comfortable, and 
not nearly so slow as might be supposed, a trained riding 
buffalo keeping up a good steady trot for a considerable 
number of miles without showing signs of fatigue, even if 
taken into the plains, where it is exposed to the full force 
of the sun. The beast is fitted with a ring through the 
nose, to which is attached a long cord. The rider holds 
the loose end of this and steers the animal by pulling it in 
the direction in which he wants to go. 

The native saddle is a curious article with a wooden 
I peak sticking up in front and a body padded with the 
inner bark of some kind of tree, I believe the Terap 
{Artocarpus kunstlert). The peak-board leans backwards 
at an angle from the perpendicular, and from the saddle 
hang down rope stirrups. 

Natives often ride with one stirrup so short that their 

I foot is on the animal's back, or, if they do not shorten the 

I stirrup, simply put up their foot. People with long legs 

should be careful when riding a buffalo in the plains. 

Here the small streams have often cut down the banks 

many feet below ground-level, and consequently the track 

which crosses them leads down to the water between two 

high banks of earth, the passage between being only just 

large enough to allow a full-grown buffalo to pass. When 

approaching one of these streams it is advisable to kick 

the feet clear of the stirrups and put them up on the 

animal's back until you are safely on the other side, or 

, ten to one you will get both your legs most unpleasantly 

I squeezed between the buffalo and the sides of the passage. 

j Buffaloes can be also highly recommended for crossing 

rivers; they are not afraid to enter water, as they are 

64 Travelling Up-Country &^ Elsewhere 

amphibious, and are far more sure-footed on the slippery 
stones of a shallow river than a pony. Needless to say, 
they are excellent swimmers. Turned loose after his day's 
work, the buffalo strolls off in search of good pasture, and 
when he has fed to the full, retires to a wallow^ a pool 
filled with filthy mud which may be capable of holding 
anything from one to forty animals. Here he will lie 
for hours, protected from the bites of insects, with little 
more than his eyes, ears and nose above the surrounding 
sea of mud. Wallows are made by buffaloes lying down 
in any small depression, which may hold a little water 
after a rain-storm, and rolling about until the earth and 
water are churned up into the evil-looking mud in which 
they delight. Besides buffaloes and ponies, bulls and cows 
are pressed into service for purposes of riding or carrying 

Coolies for Government work in Borneo are easy to 
obtain, as any native failing to obey when his headman 
orders him to work as a coolie is summarily fined. The 


rate of pay is twenty-five cents a day, about sixpence 
Enghsh money, but it is customary for private individuals 
to give another five cents. This rate, however, has now 
been raised slightly. Occasionally natives show reluctance 
to come as coolies when called, and a fine has to be in- 
flicted, but this is rare. It is a good rule never to take 
Bajau coolies with you if Dusuns — preferably up-country 
men — are obtainable. Bajaus give constant trouble owing 
to their laziness, and besides this, as is to a lesser extent 
the case with lowland Dusuns, they are quite unfitted for 
the work through their being unaccustomed to walking far 
or carrying loads, a Bajau never stirring out on foot while 
he has a beast of any kind to carry him. 

Once started and the loads arranged, up-country coolies 
give little or no trouble, and you have not the worry of pro- 
viding food for them unless you are going into the jungle away 
from all habitations, as rice and fish are procurable in any 

Travelling Up-Country &^ Elsewhere 65 

village you pass through. In fact from mouth to source of 
the Tempassuk river you are hardly ever out of sight of 

All Bornean coolies expect to be allowed to stop for a 
short rest when they come to a stream. Here they drink, 
bathe, and take a chew of sireb or smoke a nipa-ledif 
cigarette. Where a stony and shallow mountain stream 
crosses the path you will generally see one or two of your 
men draw their parangs (working-knives) and squat down in 
the middle of it to sharpen them. The most conveniently 
situated stone is chosen for the purpose, and, as nearly every 
man goes to the same stone, wherever a stream crosses a 
regular track there will be found a small boulder which has 
been worn away by constant knife-sharpenings. 

In the Tempassuk it is seldom necessary for a Govern- 
ment officer to go into big jungle, since nearly all the 
villages are accessible without passing through it, being 
surrounded by secondary growth, which has grown up on the 
sites of old clearings. The virgin jungle in the district is 
now confined to the hills, except beyond Pindasan, where in 
one place it runs down almost to sea-level. I have had but 
little experience of big jungle in Borneo, though I have seen 
a good deal of it elsewhere ; what I have had, chiefly beyond 
Pindasan and in the head-waters of the Tempassuk river 
above Kiau, was not particularly unpleasant, as little or no 
clearing had to be done to make a path. In extremely heavy 
jungle it is sometimes necessary to rentls (hack a path) 
for every yard of the journey, but I have never yet met with 
such heavy going. 

With regard to provisions, rice, fowls and eggs can 
generally be procured in Dusun villages, and possibly 
vegetables, cucumbers, a kind of French bean, or green 
Indian corn. Another vegetable not to be despised is a kind 
of white fungus which grows freely on old tree-trunks. 
Fish can sometimes be obtained from up-country villagers, 
I who build complicated fish-traps in the rivers. Honey too 

66 Travelling Up-Country &f Elsewhere 

— the produce of the Httle domesticated species of bee which 
the Dusuns hive in old tree trunks, fixed against the walls of 
their houses — can often be bought. Fresh coco-nuts form 
a refreshing drink after a long tramp, and are usually 
brought as a present when a European visits a village. Still, 
there are few white men who would care to depend on local 
supplies alone, and tinned provisions should always be taken. 

There are, unfortunately, certain firms whose goods should 
never be purchased, but for obvious reasons I am unable to 
mention their names. A good choice of tinned fish, salmon, 
haddock, sardines, kippers, lobsters, is obtainable, but the 
question of tinned meat is much more difficult. I usually 
take several tins of "army rations" with me, as they are 
excellent and contain both meat and vegetables. These can 
be supplemented by tinned mutton cutlets, tongue and local 
fowls. All tinned meat seems to have a tendency to become 
stringy, and is, I think, bad for the health if eaten 

Instead of bread, it is usual to take cabin biscuits or 
cream crackers, to my mind preferably the former. Many 
people buy oatmeal to make , porridge, but this necessitates 
either carrying a large number of tins of fresh milk — and 
weight is a thing which has to be considered — or, if con- 
densed milk is used, mixing it with water, which, if your boy 
is lazy, may not be boiled. Tinned vegetables are put up by 
various firms, both English and foreign, and nearly all the 
brands of these are good. 

In wet weather, or before an early morning start, a 
good cup of hot cocoa is both "grateful and comforting," 
but cocoa is too heating to be drunk during the day. My 
usual drink when travelling in Borneo was either tea or the 
juice of a green coco-nut, but most people prefer whisky 
and water or whisky and coco-nut juice. Water, unless 
obtained from mountain streams — and even these are not 
too safe — should always be boiled. A Primus cooking- 
lamp is exceedingly useful when on a journey, as it saves 

Travelling Up-Country &^ Elsewhere 67 

the trouble of hunting for dry wood — which is almost im- 
possible to find in wet weather — to make a fire, and burns 
but little oil, one tin of kerosene lasting almost a month. 

When visiting villages away from the bridle-paths, in 
most of which there is no halting-hut, it is necessary to 
put up for the night in a Dusun house. I used generally to 
sleep in the public verandah, as this is the airiest place, and 
family rooms in a "long house" are generally all occupied. 
The Dusuns manifest a considerable interest in your be- 
longings and yourself, which is at times apt to be a little 
embarrassing, but are always willing to do whatever lies in 
their means to make you comfortable ; and as compensation 
for a little discomfort you obtain an insight into native life 
which you would not do if stopping in a halting-bungalow. 
Native houses are usually fairly clean, but nearly always 
harbour bugs, which their methods of construction particu- 
larly favour; however, a Dusun is not worried by such 
small matters as these. 

When setting up your camp-bed it is advisable to see that 
it is not close to one of the posts of the house, or you may 
wake up in the middle of the night with the impression 
that a small earthquake is taking place. The fact is that 
one of your host's buifaloes is sheltering underneath the 
house — all Dusun houses are raised from the ground — and 
is rubbing his back against the post close to your bed. 
Other disturbing agencies at night are the pigs and the 
dogs, the former especially. After experiencing a night in 
a Dusun house and listening to the stealthy crunchings 
and noisy munchings which go on under it, it is easy to 
realise how the Dyaks are led to believe in a kind of 
spirit which comes at night and eats up the remains of 
cooked rice which are thrown down through a hole in the 

The Dusuns are a most hospitable people and always 
j produce a joint of bamboo full of "toddy" to regale the 
traveller. Seated in a circle, hosts and guests pass the 

I ►^ 

68 Travelling Up-Country &^ Elsewhere 

coco-nut-shell cup merrily round, at the same time helping 
themselves to boiled or broiled fish, which is placed in the 
centre of the group on a banana leaf or an earthenware 
plate. The fish is not necessarily eaten because the drinkers 
are hungry. When the Dusun sits down to a good toddy 
drink, he fully intends to become intoxicated, but this desir- 
able state should be obtained very gradually. It is the 
getting drunk the Dusun enjoys, not the being drunk. As 
old Lengok of Bengkahak once remarked to me : " We 
Hke to get drunk slowly, and so we always eat something 
when we are drinking, otherwise we get drunk quickly, 
have had no pleasure, and have put away very little liquor." 
Dusun hospitality to travellers is well illustrated by a certain 
custom which has almost the force of law. Any wayfarer 
passing a Dusun garden is entitled, if he be hungry, to 
gather whatever he wants to eat on the spot, but nothing 
must be taken away with him, as an act of this kind is 
regarded as a theft. 

Government halting-huts in Borneo are built of the same 
materials as native houses. They are frequently divided 
into two portions, one being a coolie room, the other, 
which is for the use of Europeans, consisting of an un- 
furnished bedroom with a small verandah. The local head- 
man keeps the hut in repair, but it is necessary to bring 
your own camp furniture, food and cooking-pots, and at 
least one personal servant. A "boy'' who knows a Httle 
cooking is worth his weight in silver, since he is almost 
impossible to find, at any rate in country districts. 

On navigable rivers and on inlets of the sea such as the 
Sulaman and Mengkabong it is necessary to hire a native 
boat, the small dug-outs locally called gobang often being the 
only craft obtainable ; but when a larger kind can be got, 
the centre should be covered with a palm-leaf roof supported 
on a simple framework of trimmed branches, the lower ends 
of which pass into eyelets cut from the solid wood of the hull. 
The steersman sits at the stern with a steering-paddle in his 

Travelling Up-Country &^ Elsewhere 69 

hand and the paddlers in front. Boats larger than the gobang 
are usually floored with slats of nibong or bamboo. 

The crew of the boat will be Bajaus or, if in an Illanun 
neighbourhood, men of that nationality. Both these races 
are in their element on the water, in fact, properly speaking, 
the Bajaus are not land-dwellers ; but, though many of their 
villages are found on dry land, they are never far from a 
river. The villages on the Sulaman inlet and the Mengka- 
bong are typical, being pile-dwellers over the water, but I 
shall have more to say about Bajau villages in another chapter. 

All the truly native boats I have ever seen in Borneo 
are essentially dug-outs, though their freeboard may be 
heightened by the addition of planks which are attached 
to the dug-out body by means of wooden pegs, the edges 
of the planks meeting those of the body and the pegs being 
inserted as " secret nailing." 

Travelling in a boat at night on one of the salt inlets is 
very pleasant, provided that there are not many mosquitoes, 
which there frequently are on these mangrove-fringed waters. 
Each stroke of the paddle leaves behind it a swirl of phos- 
phorescent light, and its blade sheds showers of jewelled 
drops, emeralds and diamonds. The Bajau boatmen set 
up a weird and haunting chant to the stroke and grind of 
the paddles, and as the canoe shoots forward into the dark- 
ness a native squatting in the bows, with his right hand 
shading his eyes to enable him to pierce the gloom ahead, calls 
out to the steersman, ^^Gebang, gebang!^^ '^Kuanon, kuanonP^ 
as he makes out the winding of the stream to left or right. 
I used always to encourage my boatmen to sing, as the 
paddling chants are to my mind singularly attractive, and 
chanting keeps the men all paddling in time, and seems to 
make them quite enjoy their work. 

There is yet another method of travelling by water which 
is chiefly used where boating would be impossible, this being 
rafting. Though the Dusuns of the Tuaran and Tempassuk 
— except where there are villages near the coast and the 

yo Travelling Up-Country &^ Elsewhere 

streams are navigable for prahus — know practically nothing of 
boat work, they are often extremely expert raftsmen. Rafts 
are chiefly used for going down-stream when rivers are in 
flood. The fabric consists of a number of enormous bamboos 
lashed together and secured with shorter bamboo cross- 
pieces at front and back, while sometimes a hand-rail and 
seat of the same material are added. The steersman stands 
either in front or at the back, as occasion demands, keeping 
the raft on its right course with the aid of a long pole. In 
the deeper reaches the raft is carried along swiftly by the 
current and requires but little attention beyond an occasional 
guiding stroke with the pole ; but every here and there a 
rapid formed by a bed of big round stones is met with, and 
the raft bumps and bangs noisily over these, the occupants 
of the small seat getting wet with spray up to the waist. 
It is below these rapids that the raftsman needs to show his 
skill, for there is often a deep pool with the current sweep- 
ing directly towards a large rock jutting out from the bank. 
The raft requires very careful guiding here, and exact 
judgment and hard work are necessary if it is not to be 
smashed to pieces. 

Natives generally have a cheerful way of telling you of 
approaching difficulties : for instance, your raftsman will say : 
" We are coming to a very bad place in a little while, Tuan. 
I have never fallen off a raft yet, but who knows what my 
luck will be this time ! " In the same sort of way when 
crossing an estuary in a tiny and very unstable little cockle- 
shell of a dug-out, which has its gunwale level with the 
water, and in which, unless used to this sort of boat, it is 
necessary to sit in a kind of cataleptic condition, your solitary 
paddler will remark : " Lots of crocodiles here, Tuan ! " 

The chief drawbacks to travelling in Borneo are bad 
paths, flooded rivers, torrential rains and a hot sun, but in 
spite of these I look back on my experiences with nothing 
but pleasure. 



EVEN in Borneo there are out-stations and out-stations ; 
some of them, if there be estates in the neighbour- 
hood, can produce quite a Httle colony of European 
men, while there may even be one or two ladies. In the 
outposts of civilisation which have advanced to this extent, 
tennis courts and other luxuries are to be found ; and, since 
the presence of Europeans in a place signifies that there " is 
something doing " either in the way of planting or mining, 
the Asiatic population will be much more heterogeneous than 
that in the smaller stations, which can boast of only a single 
European, generally a Government officer. As I am chiefly 
acquainted with the second type of post, I will confine myself 
to trying to give some idea of the life there. 

The vast majority or the whole of the people who 
inhabit the surrounding country will be Bornean natives; 
if near the coast, partly Mohammedans, partly pagans — the 
Mohammedans occupying the littoral and lower river reaches ; 
if in the interior, wholly pagans. 

The European officer's house, especially if the post is 
an old one, will stand on a commanding eminence, such 
a position having been chosen owing to the likelihood of 
attacks by the natives, as well as for reasons of health. 
Possibly on the same level as the European's house, but at 
some little distance from it, will be the police barracks, while 
at the foot of the hill are the office, the houses of the clerk 
and the telegraph operator, and the lock-up. Not far away 
are sure to be found a row of palm-leaf thatched and walled 
Chinese shops. 

The European official has of necessity to learn to be 

72 The Life of an Out-Station Officer 

something of a jack-of-all-trades; he is his own Police 
Officer, Chief of PubHc Works Department, Land Revenue 
Officer, Magistrate, Accountant, Treasurer, Doctor, Coroner 
and possibly Customs Officer. He must, if Government 
allows him to reside in the district for any length of time, 
get to know all the chiefs and village headmen; while, if 
he has lived in the country for several years, in addition 
to Malay — the lingua franca — he will probably have a fairly 
good working knowledge of one or more of the native 
languages. His duties comprise the collection of revenue 
from the poll-tax, land-rent on native holdings (if the district 
has been demarcated), boat and fishing hcences, and from 
other less productive forms of taxation ; supervision of the 
repair and construction of bridle-paths ; court work, which 
includes the hearing of both civil and criminal cases ; the 
monthly making up of the accounts both of revenue and 
expenditure, besides the sending in of various quarterly and 
monthly returns. In addition he is expected to visit the 
villages in his district as frequently as may be, in order to 
hear complaints, to become acquainted with his people, and 
to see that all the men are paying poll-tax. 

Each district has a certain number of native chiefs, who 
receive anything from fifty dollars or more down to five 
dollars for placing their services at the Government's dis- 
posal. Among the Mohammedans these chiefs are some- 
times men of rank who have been given an official position 
owing to their birth and influence, sometimes men who have 
risen owing to their own ability. The Government chiefs 
among the pagans are usually those headmen of villages who 
show themselves most capable. The Government chiefs are 
supposed to attend the court on Thursdays with regularity, 
to assist the European officer to administer justice and to 
aid him with their knowledge of native affiairs and customs. 
Minor cases, especially those which concern native custom 
only, are often dealt with by the chiefs alone. 

Every native village, whether Mohammedan or pagan, has 

^^ ,^1—— .._4-^-^- 




1 ■ 

1 ! 




,, « It 

, ,-^^ - ■ V 






f;^•;'' ;: - 

:' ..^^mf 



». ^4,;, /^'-'j^H *^|^^H 


4 ';^hH|B^H 

GuMPUs, THE Headman of Tambatuan, with Spear and Pida. 

He is wearing his headman's badge, received from Government, of which he is very proud. 
The pida, a broad-bladed knife, or short sword, is in its origin a Sulu weapon. 

The Life of an Out-Station Officer 73 

its headman, who, although he receives no direct pay, is 
recognised by Government. It is his duty to see that 
good order is kept in his village, that any crimes com- 
mitted are reported to the police, to settle small disputes, 
and to collect the annual poll-tax from his people. In 
consideration of the latter service he receives ten per cent, 
commission on the total of his collection. A headman 
who misbehaves himself is removed by the District Officer, 
some more trustworthy native being appointed to fill the 

Out-station life in a district with few other European 
residents, or none, is, however keen be the Government 
officer's interest in the people over whom he has charge, 
naturally rather depressing owing to the isolation, and this 
depression may sometimes become almost intolerable should 
fever or other illness attack him. A man accustomed to mix 
much in society, a lover of card-parties, dancing and other 
such forms of amusement, will probably suffisr from his 
loneliness much more than one who is sufficiently self-centred 
to be able to dispense with the companionship of his fellows. 
The evenings spent alone after the early tropical night has 
fallen are the times when he is likely to feel his isolation 
most; his native friends — if he cultivates any — have gone 
home to their villages ; he has read each volume of the last 
batch of books from cover to cover; and, provided he 
cannot apply himself to work of some kind, he has nothing 
to do but sit and think — not a particularly healthy occupa- 
tion in Borneo — or betake himself to bed, by far the best 
thing he can do. 

On Saturday afternoons or Sundays he may have a chance 
of enjoying a little sport; a deer-drive can often be or- 
ganised without much trouble, or taking his gun he may 
stroll out in quest of green pigeon, and, if it be the season, 
snipe. Pigs, and the male of the Bornean wild porker has 
very fine tusks, can sometimes be shot, either by beating 
them out of places which they are known to frequent, or by 

74 The Life of an Out-Station Officer 

waiting for them in the evening near their usual track till 
they come out of a patch of jungle on their way to raid 
native gardens; while, if the district harbour them, there 
may be an occasional opportunity of getting a shot at wild 
cattle (Timbardau) or rhinoceros. 

Near the coasts crocodiles abound in the river estuaries 
and their lower reaches; but, though crocodile shooting is 
useful, it is not such good sport as shooting deer or pigs, 
and besides this not a very large proportion of the animals 
accounted for are actually secured, since, unless the brutes 
are lying well away from the river on some mud-flat, they 
usually manage to fall back into the water when hit, the 
carcasses being probably found farther down-stream some 
days afterwards. 

To my mind the most enjoyable part of district work is 
the travelling, though this may be attended with considerable 
discomfort, heavy rain-storms, flooded rivers and shockingly 
bad tracks, or none at all, being among their number ; but 
there is freedom from all ofl&cial routine — though this is not 
very strict in Borneo — change of scene, intercourse with the 
natives, for whom I cherish a great affection, and a feeling 
of having almost cast off the shackles of a paid servant, tied 
to a country in which it is not good for a white man to spend 
his whole life. Many times have I thought, when some 
glorious panorama of upland country unrolled itself before 
me: "How 1 should enjoy all this were I only a free man — 
free to go when and where I like, free to stop as long as 
pleases me ! " Some people do not seem to be galled by the 
yoke of officialdom ; unfortunately for myself I am not one 
of these. 

However, in spite of discomforts — and they are many — 
to anyone who likes the peoples and customs of the Malay 
Archipelago and the neighbouring countries the call is irre- 
sistible. To me it would be unbearable to think that I 
should be obliged to live for the rest of my life in England 
without chance or hope of ever returning to those regions 

The Life of an Out-Station Officer 75 

which attract me so greatly, and to the peoples for whom I 
have so great a regard. 

Wherein, with the exception of certain favoured districts, 
lies the charm of this part of the East it would, I think, be 
difficult to say; but it is there, and when the old hand re- 
turning from Europe encounters again those indefinable 
Eastern smells at Colombo, he feels that he is nearing home. 
It is much more easy to give reasons for liking the un- 
civilised tribes and peoples of the Malayan region, since 
they possess those good qualities so often found among 
primitive people who have not yet been corrupted by the 
all-blighting influence of the white man. True, they have 
their faults, but perhaps they are not less likeable on that 

One of the worst troubles of an officer is the probability 
of being shifted from station to station, these moves being, 
when I was in Borneo, very frequent, especially in the case 
of junior members of the British North Borneo Service. I 
do not know what policy dictated these constant changes, 
possibly it may have been due to shortage in the staff", or to 
a desire that newly joined recruits should gain experience of 
different kinds of work ; but, whatever was the cause, appoint- 
ments often made for a comparatively short time can scarcely 
have fulfilled the latter purpose. One man I knew had, if 
I remember rightly, been in six different places in eighteen 

Moreover, this constant shifting of oflBcers is much disliked 
by the natives, and tends to a certain extent to unsettle 
them. Native headmen have said to me on several occasions : 
"When we are just beginning to know an officer, and he 
to know us, he is shifted." I gathered, furthermore, that 
they would sooner have a European whom they disliked set 
over them for a considerable time than the constant proces- 
sion which at that time seemed to be customary, since they 
would at least have known the man with whom they had 
to deal. 

76 The Life of an Out-Station Officer 

Another thing which probably makes the more unsophis- 
ticated natives disUke changes of officers in charge of dis- 
tricts is the fact that, according to their ideas, the advent of 
a new influence gives rise to some disturbance of the normal 
conditions of the country, the disturbance being often sup- 
posed to be inimical to its inhabitants. Thus any event out 
of the ordinary occurring soon after the arrival of a new 
officer is put down to the influences which he brings with 
him. The results of a new officer's arrival may of course be 
beneficial, such as plenty of rain when it is required before 
ploughing the wet-padi fields, a dry spell at the time when 
the felled jungle is being burnt on the hill-clearings, or a 
bumper padi crop; but since most human beings, and 
especially agriculturists, are more prone to grumble than 
rejoice, I suspect that if any fault can be found with the 
condition of affairs at the time, the things which are unsatis- 
factory are put down as being due to the fresh arrival rather 
than those which are entirely satisfactory. 

The unpleasant happenings which may be ascribed to the 
arrival of a new European are a drought just before ploughing 
time, floods of rain at the season for burning the jungle in 
hill-padi cultivation, plagues of rats, and also, I believe, 
epidemics among buffaloes or human beings. 

These favourable or unfavourable events are, I think, in 
no way connected with the natives' estimation of an officer's 
character, unpleasant events frequently following the ar- 
rival of an officer whom the natives get to like very much. 
Whether these consequences are considered to be the result 
of the European's personal influence on the tide of affairs, 
or whether they are due to outside influences, evil or good, 
which he may bring with him, I am not certain ; but I rather 
incline to the former opinion, for, since the European is the 
head of the whole district, his personal spiritual influence 
would probably be considered strong enough to affect the 
normal course of affairs. 

At the same time it must be remembered that, according 

The Life of an Out-Station Officer 77 

to the ideas of the up-country people, a native returning to 
his village after a residence elsewhere may bring home a 
whole crowd of evil spirits or influences with him; hence 
the custom of performing a religious ceremony over the re- 
turned wanderer with a view to their dissipation. Natives 
think, I suppose, that all diseases are of supernatural origin, 
certainly small-pox is ; therefore a man coming back to his 
village from a district infected with the disease, developing 
it himself and so starting an epidemic, would afford to the 
villagers' minds an extremely forceful proof of the truth of 
this theory. 

The question of the arrival of good and benevolent men 
having an evil influence on the aflFairs of others is extremely 
interesting, cases somewhat analogous being not unheard of 
in Europe. For example. Pope Leo XIII. was credited with 
the possession of the Evil Eye ; the effects of his glance were 
therefore dreaded by the superstitious peasants of Italy, and 
were warded oflF by surreptitiously making the well-known 
sign for averting the maleficent influence of the "jettatore." 

One trouble which frequently besets Europeans living in 
places far from the beaten track is the diflficulty of obtaining 
efficient servants. In British Malayasia it is customary for 
a European to employ at least three, if not four : these are 
a cook, sometimes a Tamil, but more frequently a Hylam 
Chinese (native of Hainan) ; a " boy," either Chinese, Tamil 
or native ; a tukang ayer^ who draws water and does all the 
rougher work of the house, again a Chinese, Tamil, or 
native, but very rarely a Mohammedan; and a kebun or 
gardener. In out-stations in Borneo the European officer's 
garden is often kept in order by prisoners working in charge 
of a guard, while the tukang ayer may be also a prisoner who 
has conducted himself well. 

Well-trained " boys " and cooks are difficult to get outside 
the towns, Chinese servants especially being unwilling to 
go to out-stations, even if tempted by big wages. In the 
Federated Malay States the only Chinese servants are Hylams, 

78 The Life of an Out-Station Officer 

a people not recognised as being true Chinese by the inhabit- 
ants of the mainland. The Hylams have, I suppose, gained 
their position through natural aptitude for this sort of work, 
but they have a very strong secret trade union or " kongsi." 
In these states, at any rate, it would be almost impossible to 
make use of Chinese servants from any of the mainland pro- 
vinces, as they would be driven out by threats and boy- 
cotting or, if these failed, by even more active measures. 
Many Europeans have found it absolutely impossible to obtain 
any Chinese servants at all, if a man on leaving, or being 
discharged, has harboured a grievance and lodged a complaint 
with his " kongsi." 

In Borneo, not being stationed in a town, I had to do the 
best I could with regard to retainers. I picked up a China- 
man, who turned out to be a most excellent little fellow, as 
cook ; there being no Hylam " kongsi " in such out-of-the- 
way places, he did not belong to that division of the Chinese, 
but was a Keh. My first " boy," a very raw and exceed- 
ingly objectionable Tuaran Dusun, I got almost immediately 
on coming to the country. As I think I have remarked else- 
where, a boy who is already trained and has a knowledge of 
camp cookery is a treasure without price ; so, having suffered 
internally, and otherwise, from the culinary efforts of my 
Dusun servitor, I decided after some months' trial always in 
future to take my cook with me when travelling. 

Some bachelors of economical tendencies, where such ser- 
vants can be obtained, dispense with a cook proper and keep 
a cook-boy instead, but the experiment — I have tried it my- 
self — is not, I believe, generally very successful. 

Though a good Chinese servant has some excellent 
qualities not often found among the natives of the Malayan 
region — notably gratitude — I cannot say that I like the 
Chinese as a whole, and for some reason, difficult to state, 
they fill me with feelings of repulsion. 




AS I have previously remarked, Orang Dusun means 
"people of the orchards," and is a term used by 
the Brunei Malays to describe a large section of 
the Indonesian inhabitants of British North Borneo. 

The Dusun social unit is the village community, governed 
by a headman assisted, perhaps, by some of the older men. 
Roughly speaking, the Dusun groups are more or less 
similar in habits, customs, beliefs and language, though 
there are minor differences — and others somewhat more 
important — from district to district, or even from village to 

The Dusuns apply different names to themselves in 
different parts of the country ; for instance, I have it on the 
authority of Father Duxneuney that the Putatan people call 
themselves Kadasan, while I found that the natives of the 
Tempassuk dub themselves Tindal. 

With regard to the distribution of the Dusuns in British 
North Borneo, as I have not travelled extensively, and the 
evidence available is scanty, I cannot speak dogmatically, 
but I believe that I shall hardly be incorrect if I say that 
the communities known under this style inhabit the whole 
of the northern part of the interior of British North Borneo, 
as far south as the Murut country. On the northern and 
western coasts (on the west coast they reach the Klias 
Peninsula) they are to be found living fairly close to the 
sea, though generally with an intervening fringe of Moham- 
medans — in most cases Bajaus. On the east coast they 
inhabit the upper river reaches, while in the interior they 

8o Races of Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 

extend at any rate to Tambunan, Kaningau being in Murut 

Judging from the few measurements that I have taken, they 
appear to be long-headed Indonesians. The dialects spoken 
by the Dusuns belong to the Malayo-Polynesian family 
of languages, and their grammar is far more complicated 
than that of the Malay language itself. 

The Dusun man is generally a rather lithe and muscular 
individual of low stature. He cannot as a rule be called in 
the least good-looking, his face being too broad, and the 
angles of the lower jaw frequently showing extraordinarily 
heavy development. His nose is concave towards the root 
and has widely spread nostrils, while the forehead is low, 
and often bulging. The eyes are generally straight and 
without the Mongolian fold over their inner corners (a fold 
of skin over the corner of the eye next the nose, such as is 
found in the Chinese and other Mongolian races), though 
in some cases both slanting eyes and the epicanthus can be 
found. The body is well proportioned, but many growing 
youths have a very weedy appearance, probably due to 
their hard life and poor diet. 

On the other hand, it is not uncommon to meet Dusuns 
who are handsome, even when judged by European 
standards ; such a man was my friend Sirinan, one of the 
headmen of Kampong Piasau, who was the narrator of many 
of the folk-tales that I collected in the Tempassuk. 

On my leaving Borneo he followed me down to Jesselton 
to say farewell, and several Europeans drew my attention to 
him as he stood on the steamer among a crowd of other 
natives, remarking : " What a fine fellow that is." And so 
he was, not only in appearance, but in character. He was 
a skilled craftsman, a quick learner, and a hard worker, who 
could always be trusted. He had, I think, the most per- 
fectly respectful and gentleman-like manner I have ever 
observed ; yet in his respectfulness there was no touch of 
servility or cringing, and if one word was said to him in an 

Races of Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 8 1 

insulting or slighting manner his eyes would flash, his whole 
body stiffen, while it was evident that very little more provo- 
cation would be required to make him draw his parang. 
This is a large chopping-knife, which is used either for work 
or as a weapon, chiefly for the former purpose. 

In all our dealings he was "as honest as the day," but, 
I think, just possibly, he may have known a little of the 
sport of buffalo-thieving, which according to Tempassuk 
district ethics is scarcely a crime, but a kind of game of 
" I catch your buffalo and you catch me — if you can." 

To return, however, to the Dusun in general. His skin 
colour, especially in the hill districts, is often exceedingly 
fair for a native of the tropics, being a light yellowish with 
just a touch of brown in it. This colour was sometimes 
quite startling, when, on rounding a bend in an up-country 
bridle-path, I came upon a gang of nearly naked coolies 
repairing the track, as their light skins were thrown into 
strong relief by the dark green tints of the surrounding 

The Dusun of the plains is usually a good many shades 
darker, since he is continually exposed to the direct rays of 
the sun, which do not affect the up-country man to the same 
extent, partly owing to the shade of the jungle, and partly 
to the much smaller amount of sunshine in the rainy upland 
regions. Probably the low-country man has a greater 
mixture of blood in his veins than the hill-man, and this may 
also to some extent account for his darker colour. In the 
coastal district I think it would not be easy to pick out a 
man and say, " This is a typical Dusun," but the difficulty 
would not exist up-country. This fact again, apart from 
the probabilities of the case, gives some countenance 
to the idea that the Dusuns of the plains are a mixed 

On the whole, the percentage of handsome natives is 
probably higher in the lowlands than in the highlands. 

Dusun women, when young, are often quite pretty, what 

82 Races of Tuaran &f Tempassuk Districts 

they lack in regularity of features being balanced by a 
cheerful and intelligent expression. Their hands and feet 
are nearly always small and neat, and their bodies well 
developed. Field labour, however, the carrying of heavy 
burdens and child-bearing unfortunately soon age them, 
and a woman is middle-aged at twenty-five and old at thirty. 
In some of the up-country girls the skin colour is so light 
that they have quite rosy cheeks. 

The Dusun does not seem to attain to a great age; I 
certainly sometimes saw old men with grizzled hair and 
crippled limbs left behind in the houses to look after the 
children when the other members of the family had gone to 
work in the padi-fields, but I imagine that Englishmen of the 
same age would be still enjoying a day's shooting or hunting, 
or a round of golf. 

Let us pass, however, from the Dusun's appearance to his 
character. He is, I think, a good family man. Sons are, of 
course, more valued than daughters, but the latter are always 
a good investment, as will be seen in the chapter dealing 
with courtship and marriage. Extravagance is certainly not 
a failing of the Dusun, as it is of the Bajau or Illanun; he 
is as a rule very frugal, and at intervals, if not always, a 
hard worker — in up-country districts of necessity, since hard 
labour must be performed to clear the jungle and prepare 
the ground for padi-planting. 

His worst vice is drinking ; but this is chiefly indulged in 
at those times of the year when work is slack — that is, after 
harvest, and when the jungle has been felled and burnt 
ready for planting, so that the business of sowing can be 
safely entrusted to the women. Native-brewed drink seems, 
ho'^ever, to have but little, if any, after effects, though one 
kind made from rice contains a high percentage of alcohol. 

In villages situated at some distance from a river, as many 
of them are — probably owing to hill sites being chosen in old 
times in order to guard against surprise attacks — the popula- 
tion often leaves something to be desired in the matter of 

Races of Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 83 

personal cleanliness; and on a few occasions I have seen 
natives from very out-of-the-way villages who were not 
merely grimed but caked with dirt. 

The Dusun is at first a little apt to be suspicious of a 
European, especially if he knows that he is a Government 
" Tuan," the reason for this being that his conscience, which 
is usually in a healthy dormant condition, is disturbed by the 
visit and the uncertainty as to whether one or more of his 
little peccadilloes may not have come to light. When once 
his confidence is gained, however, he rapidly expands, and in 
a short time will probably be quite friendly. He will, if you 
let him, kill fowls for you and bring you presents of vege- 
tables, probably both belonging to somebody else, if he be 
the headman of the village. In associating with him you 
can treat him almost as an equal, and be assured that he will 
not take advantage of it, an impossibility with any of the 
races of India, with perhaps the exception of the Gurkhas. 

But though, if you show yourself sympathetic, you can 
easily gain some insight into his ways of thought, religious 
beliefs and superstitions, it is more difficult to get him to tell 
you truthfully all the affairs of his village. For instance, 
the true details in a buffalo case, how so-and-so's buffalo, 
which was attached by a rope to a post of his master's house, 
managed to run away during the night and tie itself care- 
fully to a tree a couple of miles away in the jungle. Such 
things will remain mysteries for ever as far as voluntary 
information from him is concerned, probably for the following 
reasons: — firstly, he may be in the "job" himself; secondly, 
if he is not, he has no special reason for giving away his 
friends, unless he has some grudge against them; thirdly, 
there comes into play that peculiar dislike to meddling in 
another's affairs which is so common all over the East. 

Again, a man will see a murder taking place and say or 
do nothing, for why should he interfere in the ways of 
Providence ? If the victim is fated to be murdered, he will 
be murdered. As to reporting the crime at the nearest 

84 Races of Tuaran ^ Tempassuk Districts 

police station — well, it is the business of the police to find 
out these things for themselves ; and, if he did, who knows 
into what trouble he might get through his being mixed up 
in the aifair? Should a serious crime, such as a murder, 
have been committed, it is often a matter of the greatest 
difficulty to obtain evidence, even if the police are almost 
sure that certain individuals have knowledge of the aifair; 
and, if the headman or any other influential person has any 
reason for screening the offenders, he will have the whole 
affair hushed up with the greatest care, while it is no un- 
common thing for all the people who may be called upon by 
the police to bear witness to be specially drilled in their 
evidence beforehand. 

Buffalo-stealing expeditions are frequently planned a long 
time in advance, and in case the thieves should be caught 
it is arranged what stories are to be told. Luckily for the 
prosecution, however, when a gang of thieves has been 
caught, one or other of the prisoners, finding himself in a 
tight place, usually gives away all the others, meanwhile 
taking care to try and exculpate himself. Immediately this 
is known the other participants follow suit, and it is thus 
fairly easy to piece together the whole story. 

This habit of " giving away " companions in crime in 
order to save his own skin is perhaps one of the worst 
traits in the Dusun's character. On the other hand, one 
of the pleasantest things to observe in Dusun society is 
the method of treating those who have committed some 
offence and have subsequently returned from a long spell 
of imprisonment in Jesselton or Sandakan; for, unless the 
ex-prisoner is a notoriously bad character, no stigma seems 
to attach to him — he has paid for what he did, and there 
is an end of the matter. In out-of-the-way villages, in- 
deed, where not many of the inhabitants can speak Malay, 
the man who has been a " guest of the Government " 
is, in fact, rather inclined to give himself airs as a man of 
the world who has received a liberal education, and it is 

Races of Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 8 5 

generally he who welcomes the "Tuan" on his arrival in 
the village, his attentions often being rather overwhelming. 

Here I would like to add a word with regard to the 
confinement of long-sentence prisoners in town gaols. 
Though I believe the prisons of Jesselton and Sandakan 
are everything that can be desired, yet from what I have 
heard the death-rate among up-country natives under 
sentence is far in excess of what it should be. This, be 
it understood is in no way the fault of the officers in 
charge of these institutions, but is due to the peculiar 
psychological characteristics of the prisoners. It has been 
described to me by a Government ofi^icer how strongly- 
built natives pine and die under these conditions, apparently 
becoming home-sick and heart-broken. On the other 
hand, it is a rare thing to have a death in an out-station 
lock-up, unless through epidemic disease. 

I cannot help thinking that if local lock-ups could be 
enlarged so as to hold long-sentence prisoners as well as 
those confined for minor offences, this high death-rate 
might be materially reduced, for the prisoners would then 
be working in a country they knew, and would probably 
not become affected by home-sickness to the same extent ; 
while the station grounds and buildings would be better 
kept, owing to the larger number of prisoners working on 

But to return again to the Dusun. With the capacity 
for forming deep and complicated plots, there is often a 
large vein of childishness in his character, and his excuses 
for faults that he has committed are often exceedingly 

A case in point was as follows. The prisoners at 
Kotabelud used to be taken down to the river on Sunday 
to wash their clothes and bathe, as no work was done on 
that day, a policeman armed with a loaded carbine being 
in charge of the gang. 

One Sunday a Dusun prisoner, noticing that the police- 


86 Races of Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 

guard was asleep, dropped quietly ofF the raft on which 
the other prisoners were washing and let the current carry 
him to a small brushwood-covered island some hundred 
yards down-stream, where he landed and hid himself. 
Having finished his snooze, the policeman collected his 
prisoners and marched them back to gaol without noticing 
that he was a man short. When the relief guard turned 
up, according to orders, he counted the prisoners, and, not 
finding the correct number, asked for an explanation, which, 
of course, policeman No. i was unable to give. Mean- 
while the missing man lay safely concealed on the island 
until he saw the other prisoners return to the lock-up, and 
then, as his disappearance seemed to be still unnoticed, 
slipped quietly into the river again, swam to the opposite 
bank and made his escape. 

When the matter was reported to the European officer 
in charge of the post the sleepy policeman was, of course, 
suitably dealt with. The next thing was to find the prisoner, 
so police were sent up to his village to make inquiries, as 
an escaped prisoner nearly always makes straight for home. 
Sure enough he was found there, and was arrested and 
brought back. On being charged with running away, he 
replied that he had not tried to make his escape, but 
while bathing in the river he had suddenly remembered 
that he had not paid poll-tax to the Government for that 
year, and so had returned to his village in order to get the 

Another story will well illustrate the Dusun's wiliness, 
which was, however, unsuccessful in this case. In the old 
days, when the Dusuns' crops were getting damaged by pig 
or deer, it was the custom to set spring spear-traps for these 
animals, the traps being operated by means of a bent sap- 
ling and a trigger-cord, the latter being stretched across the 
track used by the marauders. Certain marks were placed 
on neighbouring trees to warn passers-by of the presence of 
these traps, but, in spite of this, cases of injury or death 

Races of Tuaran &P Tempassuk Districts 87 

occurred so frequently that the setting of spear-traps was 

Nevertheless the traps are still used "on the sly," and 
the following events happened as the result of the setting 
of one. A's padi was being damaged by pigs so he set a 
spring-trap for them. B, passing along near A's clearing, 
did not notice the trap-sign and ran into the trigger-cord, 
firing off the trap and receiving the spear right through the 
calf of one leg. B was consequently laid up in his house 
for some time. 

A, hearing that B had been wounded and was going to 
report the matter as soon as he could move, thought out a 
plan for saving himself and incidentally " getting one back " 
on B for threatening him with trouble. He therefore made 
two superficial wounds, one on each side of the calf of his 
leg, limped down to Kotabelud and reported that he was 
walking along near B's clearing when he was struck in the 
leg by the spear of a spring-trap. Inquiries being set on 
foot and B*s presence requested to explain the matter, it was 
found that he was lying ill, quite unable to walk, and suffer- 
ing from a serious wound. Result: A retires to gaol to 
repent of his sins. 

A considerable amount of insight into the Dusun's char- 
acter can be gained from listening to his folk-tales, which are 
often not without a certain touch of dry humour in them : 
they show him in his daily round of labour, and they make 
the auditor understand the things which largely occupy his 
mind : the felling and burning of the jungle for padi-planting, 
the prospects of the crop, the Spirits which have to be 
propitiated in order that they may not molest him, the warn- 
ings which he believes come to him in dreams, and the 
omen-animals to whom he pays heed. The subject of 
Dusun legendry is, however, dealt with at some length in 
Chapter XVIII. 



THE costume of a Dusun man is usually designed 
with two objects in view, utility and comfort. In 
hot climates clothes, if worn, should be loose to 
the body, a fact which all Easterns have long ago realised ; 
but this is a lesson which the stiiF-necked and superior Briton, 
with his tightly fitting suits of khaki or drill, has been slow 
to learn. 

The dress of the up-country Dusun male is beautiful in 
its simplicity, consisting as it does of a simple T bandage 
loin-cloth, generally of European material, so disposed as to 
leave a loose end hanging down at both front and back, in 
addition to a hat or head-cloth to protect his head against 
the rays of the sun. This " costume " is both comfortable 
and cheap. 

Slung over his left hip, by means of a string round the 
waist, he carries the inevitable />^r^;z^ (working-knife), which 
is fastened by a loop and toggle, the latter being often made 
from a Chinese " cash " or a Sarawak one-cent piece, stamped 
with a hole in the centre. 

The more civilised Dusuns of the coast have adopted coats 
and trousers, those of Tuaran wearing a rather loose coat of 
the dark blue cloth sold in the Chinese shops, and very 
long baggy trousers of the same material, gathered in tightly 
around the ankle. In addition, head-cloths of turkey-red 
are much in favour. In the Tempassuk, among the Dusuns 
of the plains and the more advanced up-country natives, 
the costume is rather different, a fairly tightly fitting coat 
of dark blue or black cloth, and loose trousers of the 
same material, the jacket being often ornamented with 

Dress &^ Adornment 89 

two rows of buttons on each side and with embroidered 

The head-cloths which are most commonly used in the 
Tempassuk are the products of Bajau and Illanun women's 
looms; they are bartered with the Dusuns, as the Dusuns 
supply these two peoples with sun-hats (seroung) which 
are not made by them. Sun-hats may be either conical or 
rounded, and the materials of which they are made are 
strips of bamboo or rattan cane. Frequently they are 
decorated with quite elaborate patterns, which are worked 
in with dyed strips of the same materials as the frame- 
work. Most varieties are bounded at the edge by either 
a circular strip of wood or a length of whole rattan cane ; 
but I deal with hats at greater length in Chapter XVI., 
as the making of them is quite an important Dusun 

Dusun men wear a large handkerchief round the waist, 
and in this is generally carried the brass sireb-hoxy without 
which no native leaves his house. Occasionally I have seen 
sireh-hoxes in the shape of a crescent; these rest on the 
left hip and are tied to the waist by means of two strings 
which are attached to brass loops at the points of the horns. 
iS/r^/'-baskets of plaited rattan, which have a strap to go 
across the chest, and are slung under the left arm, are also 

Dusun men do not usually decorate themselves with orna- 
ments to any extent, but pretty bracelets and armlets of 
dyed and plaited rattan, coloured either red and black or 
yellow and black, are not uncommon in up-country villages, 
while strings of beads, or beads woven into a plaited band 
of fern-fibre, are worn diagonally across the chest. Young 
dandies at Tuaran sometimes carry a small cone-shaped 
object of buffalo-horn or wood, with a ring at the top, tied 
to one end of the waist-scarf, or hung on a Chinese or 
European key-chain. It is hollow below and contains wax 
for dressing the moustache. 

go Dress &P Adornment 

In hill villages such as Kiau, where the weather is apt to 
be both chilly and rainy, the natives make sleeveless coats 
of brown bark-cloth, the material being, I believe, obtained 
from the Terap-tree (^Arto carpus kunstleri). The Dusun 
name for this bark-cloth is dampon^ and no doubt, before 
European cloth became so easy to obtain, it was used for 
making loin-cloths as well. Dampon coats are often skilfully 
decorated with lacings of native cord. 

In the Tempassuk it is now the general fashion to cut 
the hair short, but formerly long hair was very generally 
worn by the young bloods — even now men with long hair 
are still to be met with, and in one or two villages it is 
almost customary. At Tuaran many Dusun youths wear 
the hair long, as in love-making it is usual for the swain to 
rest his head in the lap of his loved one, while she searches 
vigorously for what a German once called " the little things 
which go about." Sometimes up-country Tempassuk men 
shave the head entirely or leave a fringe three or four inches 
broad from the front reaching down to the ears. Little girls 
at Tambatuan wear a thick tail of hair from the centre or 
back, and have the rest of the head shaved : boys may either 
have the hair cut short or wear a small tail. 

Tooth-filing is general, and Tuaran Dusuns have told me 
that they would be ashamed to have long teeth, probably 
because they think it like an animal. One youth I knew 
had the six front teeth in the upper jaw filed down to the 
level of the gums, while the teeth in the lower jaw had also 
been rubbed down to a much less extent; but this was 
an extreme case. Many natives blacken their teeth with a 
compound which is, I believe, made from young pinang fruits 
and copper sulphate; but the custom is rather dying out. 
The stems of some kind of plant are also chewed to blacken 
the teeth. In the Federated Malay States wood-tar made 
from burnt coco-nut shells was formerly used for this purpose, 
and very likely the Dusuns may use it too. I have never 
seen teeth inlaid with brass or other substances, though this 

Dress &^ Adornment 91 

method of decorating the person is common among the pagan 
tribes of Sarawak. 

To turn now to the subject of women's dress. The chief 
garment of the up-country women is a short skirt reaching 
to a Httle below the knees. This is of native-woven cloth 
dyed dark blue with a kind of native indigo. Cloth does not 
seem to have been manufactured at Tuaran, at any rate within 
recent years. I All Dusun women wear girdles of split and 
coiled rattan ; at Tuaran these are the natural colour of the 
cane^jwhile in the Tempassuk they are dyed red or black/ 
Numbers of small brass rings are often threaded on the 
girdle, which consists of a single length of cane, coiled many 
times round the waist. Several girdles may be worn at the 
same time. 

In the up-country villages of the Tempassuk young women 
wrap a length of European or Chinese blue cloth about eight 
inches broad around the breasts, but this is discarded on the 
birth of the first child. The women-folk of the low-country 
Dusuns have a short jacket of black or blue cloth, the 
material for which is bought at the Chinese shops, and a 
dark blue skirt of the same kind of cloth as their up-country 
sisters. Jackets are also sometimes worn by up-country 
Dusun women. When a covering for the head is used, it is 
either a hat similar to those worn by the men — there are 
special women's hats made at Saiap and Koung, and one or 
two other villages, but their use is local — or a cowl-like 
hood of native-woven cloth similar to that which is used for 
the skirt. Occasionally the hoods, especially those used for 
ceremonial purposes, are ornamented with a broad band of 
beadwork along the edge at the back, the old shell ( ? ) beads 
called bongkas being very much in favour for this purpose. 

Apart from the cane girdles and other decorative objects 
already mentioned, the Dusun woman does not adorn herself 
to any great extent; young unmarried women wear large 
flat-topped brass ear-studs which considerably distend the 
lobe of the ear, and the same kind of articles are sometimes 

g2 Dress &^ Adornment 

made of silver. Bracelets and armlets of coiled brass wire 
are fairly common, and occasionally a woman will wear a 
finger-ring made of silver, or from a piece of a sea-shell. 

The hair is dressed into a compact " bun " at the back of 
the head, but a "fringe" is often left in front and cut 
straight across the forehead. Up-country the "bun" is 
ornamented with a bone pin, which is usually slightly en- 
graved. From the head of the pin there depends a string of 
small European beads about six inches long. Combs are of 
wood, but are not worn in the hair as ornaments. Among 
the young women of Tambatuan and some other Tempassuk 
villages the eyebrows are shaved to thin almost straight 

Large discoidal brass collars and others of thick brass wire 
can sometimes be found stored away in the more remote 
villages, but these are now to all intents obsolete. Heavy 
brass anklets are in favour among the belles of Tuaran and 
Tenghilan and must considerably impede their movements. 
Embroidery in coloured threads is employed to a small extent 
to decorate the seams of Dusun women's skirts, and 
sometimes also their breast-cloths. 



ADUSUN village invariably stand s in a grove of 
coco-nut palms^ t he houses being sc attered abou t, 
apparently without any attempt at arrangement. 
As is the case with all Bornean dwellings, they are raised 
from the ground, though sometimes only slightly so; and 
the space between the house and the earth is the favourite 
hunting-ground of the wild-looking, gaunt and razor-backed 
Dusun pigs, which come to feed on the slops, refuse from 
cooking, and stale rice thrown down through a hole in the 

In wet weather Dusun villages, especially if they are 
situated on a hill, are most unpleasant to approach, since, 
before reaching the houses, it is necessary to wade through 
an expanse of evil-smelling mud, which consists partly of 
refuse washed away from below the houses, and partly of 
the ordure of domestic animals. Lying about in this sea 
of filth are pigs of all sizes, evidently thoroughly enjoying 
the opportunity of a good wallow. Coco-nut shells, husks 
and leaves are littered over the quagmire and add to the 
general air of untidiness. 

When once the worst of the mud zone is passed, the 
next thing is to climb up into the house to which you are 
making your way. This is not quite so easy 'as might be 
thought, since the Dusun's idea of a ladder is often merely 
a tree-trunk with a few notches cut in it, though some 
houses have quite good steps. In many houses, especially 
in the lowlands, there is an open platform in front of the 
door. Here the children play, clothes are dried and various 
kinds of domestic business performed. These platforms 

94 Houses, Domestic Affairs, Government 

are fairly common in the lowland villages of the Tempassuk, 
but not up-country. 
I"^*^ Dusun houses are of many types. First there is the 
commuhal dwelling, which is inhabited by several families^; 
this consists of a wide public verandah, the bacheloFs' 
sleeping-place, in which there is sometimes a raised platform 
at one end or along one side. Doors open off the verandah 
into the room, or rooms, of each family. Very often the 
first room leads into a second, which, besides being used as 
a sleeping-place, contains the family valuables. Occasionally 
the sleeping-chambers do not lead straight off the common 
verandah, there being a walled-in passage between them. 
The cooking-places consist essentially of a square of 
hardened mud, planked in around the edges. These are 
placed in the living-rooms, but sometimes also in the 
verandah; and, chimneys being unknown, when the fire is 
smoking badly, a native house is almost unbearable to a 
\_ Europea n! In Tambatuan I have seen fireplaces made of a 
thm slab of stone slightly concave in the centre. These 
were placed at intervals in the public verandah. 

Though there are many varieties of dw^ellings, the general 
plan, whether of a communal house, or of a house for a 
single family, is much the same. Above the fireplaces used 
for cooking is a framework supporting shelves for holding 
firewood and cooking-pots. |Both the inner and outer walls 
of the house, especially in communal dwellings, are frequently 
made of wooden planks or panels fitted to the roughly 
squared main timbers, these being generally set vertically 
with a skirting board at top and bottom. } 

Considering the tools at the Dusuns' disposal, the work 
is remarkably well executed. The planks and panels are 
smoothed with a light native-made adze, and the work done 
with this tool is often so fine that at a little distance it might 
well be thought to have been produced by a plane. 

J In smaller houses the walls may be made of beaten-out 
sheet-bamboo, and, if the occupants are very poor, the 

Houses, Domestic Affairs, Government 95 

whole dwelling may^ consist simply of one room.y The 
common verandah is sometimes open along the outside, 
especially at Tuaran, sometimes closed in ; but in the latter 
case there are small windows, longer than high, each fitted 
with a board shutter, which is hinged above with a rattan 
binding or with wooden bars. | Large windows of a peculiar 
kind are found in the roofs of some houses. In these a 
square piece of the thatch is left loose except along the 
edge towards the roof-beam, where it is hinged. When 
more air or light is required somebody climbs up and props 
this piece of thatch open with a stick. The doors of the 
living-rooms are frequently pivoted in wooden sockets. | 

Nails, unless the natives have become very much accus- 
tomed to European methods, are never used in house con- 
struction, though, if I remember rightly J wooden pegs are 
occasionally employed instead, j Native houses are bound 
together with rattan cane, large beams and posts usually 
being joined by removing a section from each, fitting them 
together, and lashing them firmly with a rattan binding; 
but rough methods of mortising are understood. Floors are 
made of sheets of bamboo, more rarely of slats of palm- 
wood. The house thatch, which slopes away from the 
roof-beam on either side, is a series of "attaps," made of 
the doubled and plaited leaves of some kind of palm-tree, 
generally either nipa or sago palm, the former in the low- 
lands, the latter up-country, though sago attaps last the 
longest. In up-country districts huts are sometimes roofed 
with bamboo shingles; when this is done the building is 
generally of the lean-to type, with an almost flat roof. 

The fife of a house is about seven years, or until the 
main posts become rotten, the first parts of them to become 
decayed being just above ground-level. Re-thatching may 
have to be performed as often as once in three years, but 
the frequency of this depends partly on the kind of attaps 
used and partly on the closeness with which they have been 
applied to the roof. 


96 Houses, Domestic Affairs, Government 

Above the roof-beam, at both ends of the house, stick up 
a pair of wooden decorations called house-horns. These are 
found upon both Bajau and Dusun dweUings, and are cut 
out of flat pieces of wood — they may be simply prolonga- 
tions of the beams upwards, but are often separate — which 
are frequently roughly carved to represent weapons or 
mythical animals. I am inclined to think that they may 
have been originally intended to protect the house against 
evil spirits, though I could obtain no evidence that the idea 
persists at the present day. 

On some cross-beams of the house, generally over the 
sleeping rooms, are placed the large tree-bark store-bins for 
padi which are called tangkob. Sometimes, however, padi- 
stores, little huts, are built separate from the house, or a 
small store is built on the platform outside the front door. 
In other cases a separate room in the house is set aside for 
holding padi. Over the door, or on the walls of a padi- 
store, there are occasionally to be seen rows of short 
perpendicular marks made with lime. These indicate the 
numbers of measures taken out of the store by each inmate 
of the house, who, on taking some rice, dips a finger into 
his, or her, lime-box and adds a fresh smear to the series. 

The communal houses of the Dusuns are nothing like so 
long as those of the Dyaks, and one consisting of more 
than five or six family compartments is rarely seen. The 
largest I ever saw in the Tempassuk held eight families. 
I have heard that among some of the Dusuns of the Murudu 
district one long house constitutes the village, as among the 
Dyaks. The Dusuns always talk not of a house of so 
many rooms, but of so many doors. Many villages have 
but few, or no, communal houses ; others consist chiefly of 
small dwellings of this type. 

In addition to the large numbers of pigs already mentioned, 
a Dusun village has numerous other inhabitants, besides 
human beings — fowls, cats, dogs, buifaloes and probably 
also cattle and goats. The lean and mangy pariah-like 

The Wife of the Headman of Tambatuan and her Favourite Pig. 

Every householder has its pig, razor-backed, unpleasant-looking animals, which though scavengers, 
arc regularly fed by their owners. 

Houses, Domestic Affairs, Government 97 

dogs are allowed free access to the houses, as the Dusuns 
do not consider the dog an abomination, as do their Moham- 
medan neighbours. Though they value good hunting-dogs, 
they seldom, or never, give the animals sufficient to eat, 
and consequently they are continually on the prowl to steal 
any food which may have been carelessly left exposed. I 
seldom remember having seen a Dusun fondle or make 
much of his dog. 

Cruelty to animals, either intentional or by neglect, is one 
of the worst faults of the Dusuns. They will torture to 
death monkeys, which they have caught robbing their crops, 
in the most horrible manner ; and it probably never occurs to 
a Dusun that a dog should be anything else but a sneaking, 
shrinking, hungry, mangy cur. Bdonkeys; chiefly ^r<3:-monkeys 
{Macacus nemestrina\ are sometimes kept as pets, and these 
wretched beasts generally have their long tails chopped off. 
I have asked Dusuns why they did this, but never could 
obtain a satisfactory answer, the reply usually being that 
long tails were dirty, or did not look nice. 

I kept several pets while at Kotabelud, among them a 
bear cub, a tame deer and a monkey ; but I found that it 
was quite useless to rely upon my Dusun " boy " to feed 
them. One day I noticed that the monkey, which was 
tethered to a pole outside the kitchen door, had a bad 
cut on its tail; so, calling up my Chinese cook, whom I 
knew was invariably kind to animals, I asked him how it 
had got wounded. He said he was not certain, but he 
thought that the "boy" must have done it, as he had 
seen him near the cook-house and had heard the monkey 

The boy, called and questioned, denied that he had hurt 
the animal, but admitted that he had thrown a piece of wood 
at it " in fun." Taking him by the arm, I led him up to 
the monkey, which immediately started screaming with fright 
and rushed away to the full length of its chain. 

Thinking this sufficient proof, I took the boy into the 

98 Houses, Domestic Affairs, Government 

house and gave him a good thrashing with a rattan cane. 
He was only a youth of about fifteen, and I had given him 
a beating on several occasions before for various sins of 
omission and commission without his making the slightest 
demur, since he knew quite well that he deserved everything 
that he got and a bit more. On this occasion, however, he 
protested violently, saying that he did not assent to his 
getting a beating. Nevertheless he got it, and, after 
writhing at every blow, he rushed out of the room yelling : 
'' The Tuan has half killed me, and all for a monkey that I 
could buy by the hundred at fifty cents apiece ! " It was 
quite useless explaining to him that he had been punished 
forJrigxcruelty and not for damaging my property. ^^ 

^Ga^ in Dusun houses are generally as thin as the ^o^. 
They are of the curious Malayan variety, which has a short, 
stumpy tail with a bend in it. The vertebrce towards the 
tip of the tail curve so sharply that the end is almost at 
right angles to the rest. 

The Dusuns are careful enough about animals which it 
pays to keep in good condition, especially their pigs. These, 
besides managing to find a good deal of food by routing 
about on their own account, and often eating the most un- 
pleasant garbage, are fed regularly twice every day, once 
in the early morning, and again a little while before sundown. 
At these times in up-country villages the valleys resound with 
cries of " Kay ! Kay ! Kay ! " with which the Dusun women 
call home their pigs to be fed with boiled kaladi stems and 
other vegetables. Every pig knows its owner's voice and 
trots up quickly when called. I still well remember the young 
and pretty wife of Gumpus, the headman of Kampong Tam- 
batuan, standing on a rounded boulder in front of the 
house and distributing delicacies among the waiting herd 
of porkers below; it was quite a picture of Beauty and 
the Beasts. 

Be^ are kept in many up-country villages, more, I think, 
on account of the wax they produce than for their honey. 

Houses, Domestic Affairs, Government 99 

The hives are made by getting a section of hollow tree- 
trunk, stopping it up at top and bottom and boring a hole 
in one side as an entry. The species of bee in these hives 
is a little, dark-coloured, rather thin-bodied insect, and the 
inmates of a hive frequently collect in large clusters near 
the entry. When anyone passes a hive with a cluster of 
bees hanging to it, the whole assembly is set in violent 
motion with a curious vibrating movement ; but its members 
never seem to make any attempt to attack the intruder, and 
in this their behaviour differs very much from that of one 
wild species which makes its nests in hollow trees. These 
frequently make themselves a great nuisance by flying out 
and attacking travellers and often following them for a 
considerable distance. The domesticated species cannot give 
much trouble, as the hives are fixed to the walls of the 
houses, often quite close to a window or sometimes actually 
within the house itself. The Dusuns do not, I believe, 
understand anything about hiving swarms. They simply 
hang up a hive and it is taken possession of by the bees, 
which are a wild species. 

The honey is not considered particularly valuable, and at 
Tambatuan 1 once bought three large combs for ten cents 
(about 2|d.). These I took with me to the Government 
halting-bungalow which stands just above the village, where 
I was spending the night with Dr Piltz of the British North 
Borneo Exploration Company. We indulged in some of the 
honey on the spot, but unfortunately wild bees found out 
that we had it, and came into the hut in such numbers that 
we were forced to make a hasty exit, while the remainder of 
the honey had to be thrown away and the hut smoked out 
before we could return. 

Dusun women's main household occupations, other than 
looking after their children, are the husking and winnowing 
of rice, cooking, fetching water from the river, and weaving 
cloth. The unhusked rice or padi is pounded in a large 
wooden mortar. The pestle, also of wood, is quite a heavy 

loo Houses, Domestic Affairs, Government 

alFair, and strenuous work is necessary to beat the grain out 
of the husk. One of the prettiest sights to be seen in 
Borneo is a bevy of native girls all pounding rice together. 
The pestles keep perfect time, and it is a sheer delight to 
watch the graceful movements of the lissom, brown-skinned 
young beauties. 

When the rice in the mortar has been sufficiently pounded, 
it is taken out and put into a large circular winnowing-tray 
of basket-work, which has a slightly raised rim. In winnow- 
ing the grain from the chaff, the operator grasps the tray 
firmly at the edges with the hands wide apart, the index 
fingers being from time to time extended along the tray- 
edge so as to be better able to control the utensil. The 
tray is held horizontally in front of the operator, while, by 
a series of rotatory movements, accompanied by little taps of 
the index fingers, the husks are shaken towards the far edge 
of the tray and the padi towards the operator. When a 
large amount of chaff has collected, the tray is given a little 
toss which sends the husks over the edge. The process is 
repeated again and again until no husks are left. 

Rice before being cooked is always thoroughly washed. 
The grain is placed in the cooking-pot and water poured 
over it; it is then well stirred round and handfuls of it 
taken and pressed repeatedly in the water. The water in 
the pot becomes milky, and in village-grown rice is coloured 
by the starch, dirt and other substances in suspension. The 
dirty water is poured away and the process repeated until 
washing no longer discolours the water. When the rice is 
thoroughly clean, sufficient water is added to just cover it, 
and then the pot put on a slow fire to heat until the water 
has all been driven off and the rice next the inside of the 
vessel has begun to cake and brown. 

Dusun cooking is generally exceedingly rough, quite large 
animals being roasted whole in their skins, sometimes with- 
out even removing the intestines. Fish are either boiled or 


Houses, Domestic Affairs, Government loi 

A great part of the Dusun's time is spent away from home 
in attending to his padi-fields. In fact at harvest and just 
before it the villages are almost deserted, whole families 
migrating to their clearings, which are often as much as a 
couple of miles or more away. Here they live in a tem- 
porary hut or sulapy the crop requiring constant watching 
by night and day to protect it from the attentions of birds, 
pigs, deer and rats. 

At other times of the year, when there is rather less 
work, the men, and often many of the women-folk, leave 
the village shortly after daylight, the former all carrying 
spears and some of the latter baskets on their backs, in 
which they are going to bring back tubers for the evening 
meal. They work in the fields during the morning and lie 
off during the heat of the day, returning home towards 
sundown. Frequently if a village is visited at any hour 
between eight in the morning and four or five in the after- 
noon nobody will be found at home except the very oldest 
men and women, whom age and infirmities have rendered 
incapable of field work, or the young children left in their 

When harvest is over, more people are to be found at 
home in the villages, for then work is at a minimum and the 
Dusuns give themselves up to feasting, drinking and other 
forms of enjoyment. Parties are made to renew the fish- 
traps in the river below the village, while a good deal of 
time is spent in repairing the long stone walls of the 
shoot-traps, and in fishing with rod and line. 

The Dusuns never seem to have evolved any higher form 
of organisation than the village community, and in die old 
days neighbouring settlements were often at feud. | Over 
each village is a headman, who at the present day is respon- 
sible to the Government for the good behaviour of the people 
under his charge, settles small disputes concerning native 
customs, and collects poll-tax of a dollar a head from all adult 
males, receiving ten per cent, commission for his trouble. In 

I02 Houses, Domestic Affairs, Government 

some villages — Tambatuan, for instance — I do not know if in 
all, the headmanship nominally descends from father to son, 
though I expect that formerly anyone who was capable of 
getting together a following would have been able to seize 
the leadership. 



THE jSusulK^r g^^imaril^jn ^ agr iculturist, but that is 
norTJ^'any means to say that he neglects other em- 
ployments which may provide him with food. Every- 
thing is " fish which comes to his net," from a maggot to a 
buffalo. ^^,_-»^^ 

In thr^lowland^egions the stagTe^j^^ is jr^fligj. This 
is at first-ptSfffed out in nurseries ; then when the 

have attaiiii^d^ a certain height they are tk[g\u[pj their top? 
are oof*'q|^ they are tied into bundles anS^arried by the 
"wo^^-.;T3D the swampy padi-fields where they are set out in 
rows with the help of a short wooden dibble. The fields 
require a good deal of preparation each year before the 
seedlings can be planted out, and for this rain is a necessity. 
As soon as sufficient has fallen operations are begun. 

Each field is bounded on its four sides by a bank of 
hardened mud, and the water, if an insufficient amount 
collects, naturally is conducted from the nearest brook, 
which is obstructed by a dam. The water finds its way 
from field to field, the embankments being temporarily 
breached for this purpose. When enough has been ad- 
mitted the breaches are again closed and, after the water 
has stood for some time and the weeds have died down, the 
land is ready for ploughing. 

The Dusun plough is an extremely simple 'ipontrivance of 
wood with an iron-shod share./ It is drawn by a buffalo/ 
which i^s attached to it by very / primitive harnes^ and is 
Mve SjJ^ means of a ij^e^£Qr3^ and a switch or rattans. 
After ploughing, the soil, now in a semi-liquid state, is 
harrowed by harnessing a buffalo to a large bamboo frame 

I04 Agriculture, Fishing, Hunting, 

under which are fitted projecting spikes of the same material 
as the frame, or of nibong palm-wood. This contrivance is 
dragged about the field, often with the driver standing on it. 
Two other contrivances drawn by buffaloes are also used 
for smoothing and levelling the soil : one is a kind of large 
rake with a rail-like handle which enables the driver to raise 
or depress the implement as required ; the other a heavy and 
almost semicircular beam of hard wood which is dragged 
about to level inequalities of the ground, the driver mount- 
ing the implement to increase its weight. Harrowing having 
been completed, the land is ready for the reception of the 
young seedlings. Between planting out and harvest the crop 
requires to be kept free of weeds, this work being apportioned 
to the women and children. 

When the grain is ripening it attracts large flocks of 
weaver-birds, and is, besides, liable to be destroyed by in- 
roads of rats, pigs and deer. To protect the padi against 
these visitors the Dusuns build small huts in the fields and 
station watchers in them, or sometimes a whole family will 
live there until the harvest is completed. One method of 
scaring birds is to plant a number of bamboo poles loosely in 
the ground at various points in the fields. These are con- 
nected by strings to which are attached rags, bunches of 
grass and other suitable objects. The different strings lead 
up from the posts into the watcher's hut and are usually 
tied altogether to a beam. The watcher is thus enabled to 
take his ease in the shade, and at the same time to keep 
birds away from the whole field by jerking at the bunch of 
strings which sets all the scarers in motion. 

Reaping, which is done with a special type of knife, is left 
to the women and children, as is all but the very heaviest 
field work. There are two special kinds : one type consists 
of a thin blade of iron set at right angles across, and in 
about the centre of, a wooden handle ; this is grasped in the 
right hand, so that the blade is between the second and third 
fingers. In reaping, the padi stalks are drawn with these 

H- si o 
1^ >. 

o « 


Agriculture, Fishing, Hunting, ^c. 105 

two fingers against the blade and thus cut through. The 
other kind of reaping-knife has a blade which is broad 
at the end and narrow near the handle, the back curving 
upwards towards the end farthest from the handle. 

The Dusuns of the hill v illages plant dry ricQ as their chief 
crop. The cultivation of this necessitates the making of a 
fresh clearing in the jungle every season. When the forest 
has been felled with adzes and chopping-knives it is left to dry 
for a while and is then fired. The burning does not entirely 
destroy the tree-trunks, but the ground is sufficiently cleared 
to allow sowing to take place. This work is done by the 
women, who drill lines of holes with sharpened stakes of 
hard wood and drop several grains into each. The holes 
are not filled in, and a watcher is generally set for a 
few days to keep away birds until the earth has tumbled 
down so as to cover the seed or has been washed over it 
by rain. 

The hill padi needs just as much looking after as wet rice, 
or rather more, since the clearing is surrounded by jungle, 
the haunts of deer and pig : in fact, during the padi season 
the up-country Dusun lives more on his clearing than in his 
village, the tiny little hut (sulap) which he builds being 
crowded with himself and his family. After harvest, if it 
has been plentiful, the Dusun gives himself up to eating and 

Occasionally, if the weather has been very wet at the 
burning season, the Dusuns are unable to clear their ground 
properly and the crop is a failure ; in this case they have to 
support themselves as best they may on jungle tubers and 
whatever small animals and fish they are able to catch in 
their traps. 

The planting of hill padi is destructive to large stretches 
of jungle, but it is difficult to see what method could be sub- 
stituted for it, unless the Dusuns could be taught to terrace 
the sides of the valleys and plant wet padi. The shallow 
soil of the hill-side will support crops of padi for a few years 

io6 Agriculture, Fishing, Hunting, ^c. 

at the outside, and actually the Dasuns only use it once, 
planting, when the padi has sprung up, kaladi (Caladiuni) 
among the young crop. For the next season's padi crop a 
new piece of jungle has to be felled and burned, and when 
the kaladi tubers have reached maturity and been dug up 
the old clearing is abandoned. 

After some years, perhaps about twenty, when tall second- 
ary jungle has grown up on it, it may be used again, the soil 
having had a rest and a certain amount of new humus having 
accumulated. In the coastal regions dry or hill padi is a good 
deal planted on flat land which it is difficult to irrigate. The 
plough and harrow are used in preparing the ground, and 
the land will support a crop for two or three years running. 
A few of the up-country villages of the Tempassuk, for in- 
stance Tambatuan, have a little wet rice land in the valley. 
Probably old ground might be used more frequently, but as 
it is very troublesome to clear the grass, weeds and brush- 
wood which spring up in a year or two, the people prefer to 
wait until comparatively large trees have grown up and killed 
the undergrowth. 

As mentioned elsewhere, a considerable amount of tobacco 
is grown at Kiau, and in various villages of the Interior pro- 
vince. Other crops occasionally planted are tapioca and 
Indian corn, the last to a very small extent among the 
Dusuns. Sometimes also quite large patches of native 
cucumbers are met with, which, though they have not so 
much taste as those grown in Europe, are nevertheless a 
very welcome vegetable. Small onions, like spring onions 
or little leeks, a French bean, as well as pumpkins and a 
kind of vegetable marrow, are other vegetables occasion- 
ally obtainable. The fruit grown in the Tempassuk and 
other parts of Borneo I have dealt with in a former 

The Dusuns are particularly clever at obtaining both small 
and large animals by means of traps. For catching deer 
spring spear-traps and nooses are prepared, while for pig 

Agriculture, Fishing, Hunting, ^c. 107 

spear-traps, trigger fall traps and pit-traps — the bottom of 
the last-mentioned studded with pointed bamboo stakes — are 
most generally used. 

The blantek^ blatek or tuil, names under which the spring 
spear-trap is known, has the spear set at different heights 
according to the kind of game it is required to kill ; thus 
for pig it is set at about the height of the calf of a man's 
leg from the ground and for deer at the height of a man's 
chest. Owing to numbers of people having been killed or 
wounded by traps of this kind, they are now illegal, and 
are only set by stealth; consequently I have never seen 
one, but I understand that the spring power is supplied by 
a bent sapling and the trap exploded by means of a trigger- 
cord stretched across the game-track. The long bamboo 
spears with which hlantek are armed were several times during 
my residence in Borneo brought into court when Dusuns were 
charged with setting them. This type of trap is, I believe, 
essentially similar to that called peti lanchar in Sarawak, an 
example of which is figured in Ling Roth's Natives of Sarawak 
and British North Borneo (vol. i., p. 440). 

The pit-traps for pig are covered over with sticks and 
leaves, so as to resemble the surrounding earth : they are, 
of course, dug in the middle of a game-track, generally close 
to the spot where the pigs have broken through a garden 

Deer, when not hunted with a pack of dogs and spears, 
are frequently driven against a row of rattan nooses sus- 
pended from a long cord of the same material. A large 
number of beaters is necessary to accomplish successfully 
one of these drives, and a section of jungle known to be 
haunted by deer must be found, which is of suitable shape 
for the purpose — i,e, one which is rather triangular, so that 
the line of nooses may be set not far from its apex, the 
deer being driven down from the broader portions. The 
Dusuns are also exceedingly clever at making fall- and noose- 
traps for small animals, chiefly rats and squirrels, and a very 

io8 Agriculture, Fishing, Hunting, 

common type of squirrel-trap worked by a trigger and a 
bow is illustrated by Burbidge in Gardens of the Sun. 

When the harvest is over the hill people are at a loss for 
regular employment, and so betake themselves to the river 
to set their fish-traps in order. The most common type of 
large trap consists of two converging stone walls with a 
basket fixed at the end. The trap is built in the form of 
a V with the broad end facing up-stream, and its walls are 
composed of large rounded boulders collected from the river 
bed. These walls are of considerable length, and are built 
so as more or less to dam a considerable portion of the river. 
Thus the water within the stone walls, especially near their 
apex, is at rather a higher level than that of the stream 
outside them. The long conical basket affixed to the narrow 
end of the trap retains the fish and at the same time allows 
the pent-up water to escape. As the walls of the trap and the 
water between them are above the level of 'the stream, 
the basket is also elevated considerably above the surface, 
and the water from the trap plunges down through it to 
join the main body of the river again. A slight bridge of 
two bamboos, one for a hand-rail and one for the feet, is 
often built from the bank to the end of the trap in order 
to facilitate the collection of the catch. 

Few fish are caught in these traps unless the river is 
swollen by heavy rain, but then large hauls are the rule ; 
for at such times the fish make their way down-stream in 
search of suitable holes and eddies in which they may 
shelter themselves from the force of the stream, and thus pass 
in large numbers between the stone walls and into the basket. 
When the river is badly in flood — frequent occurrence — 
the bamboo bridge becomes almost a necessity, for it is an ex- 
tremely dangerous experiment to try and wade the Tempassuk 
after heavy rains, many Dusuns, swept away by the rush of 
water, having paid for their temerity with their lives. 

Another method of trapping fish occasionally employed 
is to select a shallow stretch of river where the bed is 

Agriculture, Fishing, Hunting, ^c. 109 

wider than usual and the current not very swift, and there 
to build a series of large stone- walled chambers, each 
connected with the next by a small opening, the main 
entrance to the trap, as before, facing up-stream. Fish 
make their way into the chambers and are then easily 
captured and dispatched. 

One very ingenious form of trap is a bottomless conical 
basket of natural or wait-a-bit rattan twigs. The reflexed 
thorns of the plant are left adhering on the inside, the 
strands of rattan being so arranged that the thorns point 
backwards — that is, towards the apex of the trap. Walls 
of stones with small holes in them at intervals are built at 
right angles across the river to receive the traps. These 
are inserted with their opening facing up-stream, so that fish 
descending the river put their heads into what appears to 
them to be breaches in the wall, but are unable to with- 
draw again owing to the thorns of the traps catching them 
under their scales. Often this type of trap is used without 
thorns. The fish get their heads wedged in and cannot 
escape. A similar kind of trap is made in the Malay States, 
where it is called tengkalak onak. 

Several varieties of basket fish-traps are made by the 
Dusuns, the principle of all being that of easy entry and 
difficult escape. The usual method is to make a conical 
entrance to the trap out of strips of rattan or other material, 
the point of the cone being directed inwards. The fish 
can thus easily make their way into the trap, but when 
they try to make their way out again, even if they can 
find the place at which they entered, they are unable to 
push apart the converging strips of cane which form the 
point of the cone. 

Several methods of rod-and-line fishing are employed, one 
of which resembles fly fishing with a grasshopper or other 
insect for bait. For fishing the pools in the river the line 
is weighted with a small piece of lead and baited with a 
worm, or anything else which will attract the fish. A light 

no Agriculture, Fishing, Hunting, ^c. 

float is often used on the line in ditches and other still 

A rather remarkable method of fishing is by " splashing " ; 
to perform this a man walks along the bank of a deep and 
rather sluggish stream with a rod and a short line, to the 
end of which is attached a small piece of sheet-brass armed 
with either one or two hooks. He drops the bait into the 
water and then splashes the water about with the top of 
the rod, the movements of the rod top causing the bait to 
jump about as if alive. Fish lurking under the banks or 
on the bottom come and seize the bait, and sometimes quite 
large catches are made. 

Among the lowland Dusuns small streams are often 
dammed, in order to catch the fish which lurk in the deeper 
holes, while scoop-like baskets or hand-nets are used for 
bailing out the catch. The flat, marshy country between 
Kotabelud and Pindasan is a favourite place for this method 
of fish-catching, and also for hunting for tortoises and fresh- 
water turtles. The juice obtained from the roots of the tuba 
plant {Deris eliptica) is sometimes used for stupefying fish in 
rivers and pools, the roots being pounded up and the juice 
poured into the water. Catching fish by torchlight is a 
favourite pursuit of both Dusuns and Bajaus, and, when the 
water in the Tempassuk is low, parties are out along the 
river bank night after night. The fish are dazed, or even 
attracted, by the glare of the torches and allow themselves 
to be killed with a chopping-knife or a fish-spear without 
making the slightest effort to escape. 

Any European can make himself popular with a whole 
Dusun village by dynamiting a couple of pools in the river. 
Everyone in the place turns out to take a share in the fun, 
grandfathers, fathers, mothers, grandchildren and bevies of 
Dusun girls, whose partly assumed modesty and shy giggles 
greatly add to the amusement of the occasion. The women 
and children, armed with hand-nets or scoop-shaped baskets, 
stretch themselves in a line across the river in the shallows 

Agriculture, Fishing, Hunting, &^c. 1 1 1 

below the pool. The cartridge is thrown in, a dull boom is 
heard, and a small column of water leaps from the surface of 
the river. Then all is excitement, hasty grabs at escaping 
fish are made by the watchers in the shallows ; the younger 
men of the village dive again and again into the pool, bring- 
ing up each time half-stunned fish which are lurking near the 
bottom; sweeps are made at floating fish with hand-net or 
basket, and finally, when nothing more remains to be caught, 
a move is made to the bank and the catch counted and 




THE Dusun is nearly omnivorous. Rice, fish, meat, 
vegetables, fruit, jungle roots, squirrels, monkeys, 
rats, snakes, tortoises, lizards and frogs are eagerly 
devoured, even such foul and musky smelling reptiles as the 
monitor-lizard not being despised. I remember shooting 
one of these animals on a small creek near Tenghilan, 
where I used occasionally to stop for the night on the 
way from Tuaran to Kotabelud. Wishing to preserve 
its skin, but not being willing to skin the animal myself, 
I turned it over to a coolie, on condition that he should 
have the body to eat if he would take off the skin for 
me. The offer was accepted with alacrity and I was 
afterwards informed that the meat was splendid ! 

Around many of the villages monkeys and small game, 
such as rats, have been almost exterminated, a fact which 
has struck several zoologists who have visited Mount 
Kinabalu in search of specimens. Of course, as with 
most Eastern people, the staple food of the Dusuns is rice, 
but in addition large quantities of kaladi (Caladium sp.) 
and tapioca root are consumed. Fresh-water fish, as has 
been shown, are easy to obtain, for the rivers teem with 
many different kinds, and dry or fresh sea-fish can be 
purchased in the markets. 

Occasionally, when the padi crop is a failure, and the 
produce of supplementary cultivation is insufficient to main- 
tain him, the Dusun has to fall back on jungle roots to 
supply the deficiency. Certain poisonous tubers called 
kadut are dug, cut into thin slices, and placed for some 
hours in a basket, which is set down in a shallow stream 




A DusuN Family Party on the March. 

The old man has a spear in his right hand, which he uses as a walking stick, or against a pig, 

or other animal he may encounter. The point of the spear is protected by a two-piece wooden 

sheath bound with strips of rattan cane. Note the inevitable chopping knife on the left thigh. 

A DusuN Fish-Trap in the Kadamaian River. 

A trap of this kind is constructed at the narrow end of two long V-shaped, converging walls of 

stones, built in the river bed, ani having their larger opening up-stream. It consists of a long 

shoot of bamboos leading to a removable, conical basket, into which the fish fall. 

Food, Narcotics &^ Intoxicants 113 

so that a constant current of water shall flow over its 
contents. When all the poisonous elements have been 
thus removed, the tubers are ready for cooking. I once 
saw this vegetable being washed at a Dusun village not 
far from Pindasan. The padi crop had been a failure, 
and the people were half starving. Measures were taken 
for their relief. 

With regard to food in general, the Dusun appreciates 
quantity more than quality. An Illanun chief once re- 
marked to me: "These Dusun coolies eat like buffaloes; 
a whole saucepan of rice per man is not enough for 
them." Some epicures like their game high. Burbidge, in 
Gardens of the Sun, tells us how a Dusun "had two rats 
— rather high they were too — which he roasted entire and 
ate with great gusto." 

The Dusun methods of cooking are boiling, stewing and 
roasting. Small fish or bits of meat are often roasted by 
putting them into the cleft of a stick, which is sharpened 
at the other end for sticking into the ground. Three stones 
or three short stakes of wood or bamboo are used to 
support the cooking-pots. 

But to return to the subject of high food, the Dusuns 
have one delicacy — a kind of potted meat — which to 
European ideas is a most disgusting compound. The 
basis of it is raw salted meat of some kind or other, 
usually buffalo, treated with powdered seeds of the tree 
which the Malays call kapayang^ the Dusuns pangL This 
is put away in jars, where it is left till far advanced in 
decomposition, when it is considered ready for use. A 
jar of potted meat is often opened at a drinking-party, 
and its vile stench corrupts the air of the whole village. 

The Dusuns obtain their salt from theBajaus and Illanuns 
of the coast, but the subject of salt-making is one with which 
I will deal later. Cooking is largely done in native pots of 
greyish-coloured clay or brass vessels, purchased, in the latter 
case, from Brunei traders or Chinese store-keepers, but 

114 Food, Narcotics &^ Intoxicants 

European saucepans are coming more and more into use. 
Fish, caught in traps in the river, when not eaten fresh, are 
spUt open and sun-dried. A disgusting smell arises from 
these during the drying process, clouds of flies setthng on 
and buzzing around them. According to Whitehead, in 
Exploration of Mount Kinabalu^ p. 183, "rats are often 
split and fixed on bamboo frames, then smoked and stuck 
over the fireplaces in the houses until required " ; but, though 
no doubt his observations are correct, I never remember 
having seen this done myself. 

The water-vessel in all Bornean houses is a length of 
bamboo, the body of the vessel being a long single inter- 
node, and the bottom an adjacent node. In the morning 
women carry down a number of these to the river on their 
shoulders, fill them and bring them back to the houses, the 
supply of water being generally suflScient to last for the 
day. Occasionally, when a village is far from a supply of 
drinking water, an aqueduct of bamboos split into halves 
and supported on slight poles is built to the nearest spring. 

Dusuns have a rather curious habit of preserving the 
skulls and bones of animals they have eaten, a piece of the 
under side of the thatch often being decorated with numbers 
of these trophies. Among them are generally remains of 
squirrels, pigs, rats, and sometimes of the muntjac or of 

Rice, as has been remarked before, is the staple diet. 
Various condiments, red peppers, etc., are sometimes mixed 
with the rice and fish to give spice to the meal. The 
mixture is pressed into boluses with the fingers of the right 
hand, and transferred from the plate to the mouth, the head 
being tilted backwards. Spoons cut from joints of bamboo 
are used in Dusun cookery, as are also wooden stirrers or 
spatulas. For figures of these Ling Roth's Natives of 
Sarawak and British North Borneo^ vol. i., p. 380, should 
be consulted. 

At Tuaran the women have the abnormal habit of eating 

Food, Narcotics &^ Intoxicants 115 

earth, which is also found in other parts of Borneo, in Java 
and the Federated Malay States. Not far from the Chinese 
shops at this station there is a gully, which at the time of 
heavy rains has a small stream running at the bottom of it. 
The sides of the gully are made of a bluish grey clay with 
one or two bands of a hard dark purplish red clay running 
through it. At about six o'clock in the evening it is usual 
to see anything up to about a dozen women digging out 
this red clay with pointed sticks or small knives, and putting 
it into baskets. I have been told that the clay is roasted 
before being eaten, and that some women consume very 
large quantities. It is said to be a good medicine for 
women who are enceinte. I have several times dug out a 
sample and eaten it myself; it has rather the consistency of 
chocolate, but is almost tasteless. 

To the native mind a sireh chew and tobacco to smoke are 
only a little less necessary than food. The ingredients of 
the quid, as made up in Borneo, are a sireh leaf — sireh is a 
climbing pepper — a piece of nut from the betel palm, a piece 
of gambler, which is bought from the Chinese in small 
cubes, a little native-grown tobacco, and a smear of lime 
obtained by burning sea- or fresh-water shells or coral. The 
coarsest veins are stripped out of the sireh leaf, and a smear 
or two of lime put on its upper surface. Sufficient quantities 
of betel, gambler and tobacco are then put into the half- 
folded leaf, and the whole made into a bundle and pushed 
into the mouth. Occasionally, when too little lime has been 
added to the chew, a native will produce his lime-box and 
taking out some of the lime-paste on his little finger smear 
it on a back tooth. 

Chewing causes a copious flow of saliva and colours it red, 
so that a new-comer to the country, following a path much 
used by natives, might think that a wounded man had pre- 
ceded him along it. The habit is certainly not particularly 
pleasing, and the appearance of a quite pretty young woman 
is often spoiled by her having a ragged-looking wad of half- 

ii6 Food, Narcotics &^ Intoxicants 

chewed sireh and tobacco protruding from one corner of her 
mouth. Old people, who have lost their teeth, find it im- 
possible to manage a quid made up in the manner described 
above ; but for all this they are not to be deprived of one 
of their chief pleasures, so they put the ingredients of the 
chew into a tabular mortar of iron, brass, or bamboo, and 
pound it up with a pestle with a sharpened end. 

A sireb quid has an aromatic, pungent and astringent 
taste, and, speaking from my own experience, is distinctly 
stimulating. When a guest visits a Dusun house the host 
immediately produces sireb and tobacco, the former being 
contained either in a tray or in one of those beautiful old 
brass caskets so treasured by the Dusuns. These are 
always much worn at the bottom from being perpetually 
pushed along the floor of the house from guest to guest. 
The caskets contain small boxes for the lime, tobacco and 
gambler, with a pair of special scissors for cutting up the 
betel-nut. Not to oflfer a guest sireh would be a breach of 
the laws of Dusun hospitality. 

Tobacco is used not only for chewing, but also for 
smoking, though pipes are not known among the Tempassuk 
and Tuaran Dusuns ; they are used, however, by other 
tribes, notably the Muruts. The Dusun medium of smoking 
is the cigarette, which is covered with a wrapper made from 
the flower-spathe of the nipa palm. These wrappers, which 
are called kirai, can be bought ready cut and made up into 
bundles at all the markets. Native cigarettes are not a bad 
substitute for the European variety, if anyone runs out 
of stock, but the wrapper tastes rather more than the 
tobacco, and they are drying to the throat, and tend to 
produce a cough. 

The Dusuns have, rather unfairly, I think, got a certain 
reputation as drunkards. It is true that they often drink to 
excess, but this is a rule only at nights after the day's work 
is done, or when work is slack, as, for instance, after harvest, 
which is the general season of rejoicing. Then you may 

Food, Narcotics &^ Intoxicants 117 

sometimes find whole villages drunk, men, women and even 
children; but it is rarely that a Dusun takes to drink, as 
many Europeans do, to such an extent that he becomes 
incapable of doing his daily work. This is not for want 
of opportunity, as every man makes his own liquor, and 
the supply is limited only by the number of coco-nut 

One good point about native intoxicants is that they seem 
to have comparatively little ill effect; a man will be dead 
drunk at night and get up the next morning without even a 
headache. Natives have often told me this, adding that gin, 
arrack or whisky bought at the Chinese shops made them 
feel very ill the next morning : not that native drink is not 
strong, especially the kind known as tapai, which contains 
a large percentage of alcohol, but it is made from good 
materials and is free from adulteration. Luckily so far the 
Dusuns do not seem to have taken very much to the vile 
products sold as brandy and whisky by the Chinese, this 
probably being chiefly owing to their high price compared 
with native-brewed drink. Around Tuaran some of the 
men drink arrack and gin, and illicit stills run by Chinese 
sometimes give trouble to the authorities. 

The Dusun is a great man at convivial gatherings and a 
regular connoisseur with regard to the liquor he drinks. It 
is the height of hospitality to make a visitor drunk, and the 
guest will probably regard his host as mean if he does not 
give him enough drink to make him go home staggering. 
In deference to native custom, whenever Dusuns came to 
see me, I used to provide a stock of liquor, native-brewed, 
and on one occasion when I was doling it out rather sparingly, 
partly because I did not want to have a noisy party in the 
house, and partly because I did not wish to encourage 
drunken habits, one of the Dusuns asked for some more, 
saying: "Look here, Tuan, you would not like us to 
go home to our villages and say you had not made us 
properly drunk, would you ? " After this nothing re- 

ii8 Food, Narcotics &^ Intoxicants 

mained but to send out for some fresh drink and be truly 

The liquor chiefly drunk is toddy, locally known as babr. 
It is made from the sap of the coco-nut palm, obtained by 
cutting the end of a young flowering shoot, which, of course, 
has a great sap pressure in it. A large bamboo receptacle 
is hung underneath the cut end of the shoot, and into this 
the liquor trickles. A piece of a certain kind of tree-bark 
called russak is placed in the bamboo tube, and this is said 
to hasten the fermentation of the drink, and to give it the 
peculiar bitter taste which the Dusuns like. The end of 
the shoot has a fresh slice, a very thin one, taken oflf it at 
least once a day in order to keep the sap perpetually flowing, 
and at about half-past six, when the people return to the 
village from work in the padi-fields, each tree which is being 
tapped has a brown-skinned human monkey concealed some- 
where among its leaves, who is collecting the drink which 
has accumulated, reslicing the end of the shoot with the 
peculiarly shaped knife used for the purpose, and hanging 
on a fresh receptacle. 

Sometimes the trees are notched to help the climbers, but 
the majority of natives will "walk" straight up a coco-nut 
palm trunk without any other assistance than that of their 
hands and feet. This they do by planting their feet firmly 
against the trunk of the tree so that their legs are almost at 
right angles to it, at the same time embracing it with both 
hands ; their bodies, which are bent at the hips, being thus 
almost parallel to the tree-trunk. Next they jerk both 
hands forward a little and, when they have got a good grip, 
bring up their feet to the same extent. In this way they 
are enabled to climb the trees in a few seconds. 

Newly collected toddy ferments very fast, and it is im- 
possible to keep it in a corked bottle. In colour and density 
it looks something like ginger-beer, but occasionally has a 
pinkish tinge. When fresh it is sweet and faintly remini- 
scent of very bad cider, but it leaves a nasty sour taste in 

Food, Narcotics &^ Intoxicants 119 

the mouth. After standing for some few hours it becomes 
bitter, and is then, according to Dusun ideas, at its best, 
though a European would probably prefer it freshly drawn. 
A large bamboo of toddy can be obtained for from ten to 
twenty cents, a couple of bamboos being sufficient to have 
" the desired effect " for two or three men. 

Toddy drinking in markets is supposed to be prohibited 
owing to the quarrels which occur among the Dusuns when 
under the influence of liquor; however, if the "Tuan" 
would like a drink, one can usually be procured at short 
notice, as I know from personal experience ; and in the lesser 
markets, which are infrequently visited by the police, the 
coco-nut-shell cup passes round merrily without any fear of 
a thirsty private annexing the brew under the pretext that 
Government regulations are being infringed. 

Tapai^ which is the intoxicant most in favour about 
harvest time, though not a spirit — since it undergoes no 
process of distillation — is, nevertheless, extremely potent. 
It is made by pouring water on rice with which has been 
mixed some fermented rice-flour. The yeast for setting up 
the fermentation is, in Tambatuan in the Tempassuk district, 
made as follows. Rice-flour is mixed with sugar and water 
and made into a small ball, which is tied up in laIang-gT2iSS 
leaves and hung up under the thatch till it has become quite 
hardened and mouldy. It is then pounded up and mixed 
with more rice-flour and water. This compound is made up 
into small balls, which are hung up outside the house for 
three or four days and are taken in at night. After they 
are sufficiently matured, a quantity of rice is boiled and 
allowed to cool, and then the balls of yeast are pounded up 
and mixed into it. The tapai rice is put into a jar, and, 
after a day or so, when it begins to taste sweet, water is 
poured in and the top of the jar tied up. After three or 
four days the liquor is ready to drink. If the tapai is kept 
for about ten days or so it becomes sour, and is no longer 
good. The tapai rice will keep for a long time, but if 

I20 Food, Narcotics &^ Intoxicants 

water is added the tapai resulting must be drunk within a 
few days. This account of tapai-mddung was given me by 
Gumpus, headman of Tambatuan. 

Tapai^ even when not drunk straight from the jar, is 
served up with the rice still in it, and for straining off this, 
while drinking, I have seen one very ingenious type of filter. 
A short piece of bamboo with a node at one end is taken, 
and long and narrow slots cut in it longitudinally, these 
being sufficiently small to prevent grains of rice passing 
through. This strainer is placed in the tapai with a rather 
long reed or small but fairly long joint of bamboo loose 
inside it. By applying his lips to the bamboo tube, which 
is much longer than the filter portion of the apparatus, the 
drinker is thus able to suck up the tapai without getting any 
rice into his mouth. 

Not only is the tapai drunk, but even the rice which forms 
a thick layer at the bottom of the jar is not rejected, this 
having a strong taste of the liquor. I have both drunk tapai 
and eaten rice from the tapai j^r, but I am at a loss to know 
to what European drink I can compare it, unless it be to bad 
brandy. Tapai rice has a burning taste and tapai itself is 
quite fiery to the throat. The Malays of the Malay Penin- 
sula make a kind of tapai cake, which is exactly similar in 
taste to the tapai rice of Borneo. 

Besides the harvest season, every event of any importance, 
birth, death or marriage, is an excuse for a good deal of 
drinking, and toddy is, of course, drunk daily in the houses, 
and in the huts (sulap) which are built for watching the 
padi-fields. The Dusuns nearly always drink and eat at 
the same time, otherwise, they say, they get intoxicated too 
quickly, small fish, boiled or broiled in the embers of a fire, 
being much in favour for consumption at drinking-parties. 

As remarked above, native-brewed drinks apparently do 
but little harm, but the British North Borneo Company 
should follow the excellent example of the Federated Malay 
States Government and make the selling of foreign spirituous 

Food, Narcotics ^ Intoxicants 121 

k liquors to natives a punishable offence. Unfortunately a 
Chartered Company which has to do its best to pay interest 
to its shareholders, and which depends for a large amount of 
revenue on the leases of the spirit, opium and gambling farms, 
can hardly be expected to act in so disinterested a manner, 
having indeed every temptation to obtain money in any way 
it can. 



THE Tuaran villagers are comparatively well ofF, and 
their berians — i,e. the purchase prices paid for wives 
— are much larger than those of the natives of the 
Tempassuk or the up-country parts of the Tuaran district. I 
was, unfortunately, never present at a Dusun marriage; but 
information obtained from natives was to the effect that there 
was little or no ceremony beyond a feast, at which a buffalo 
was killed and eaten and a good deal of toddy drunk. These 
statements are further borne out by Mr Whitehead's account 
of a Dusun marriage at Melangkap in The Exploration of 
Kinahalu^ p. no. 

As far as I know, the wife goes to live with the husband, 
and not the husband with the wife's parents, as is done 
in some tribes. Whitehead says that in Melangkap the 
husband lives for a while with the wife's parents. Monogamy 
is the general rule, but I occasionally heard of a man with 
two wives. Shortly before I left the Tempassuk, Yompo, a 
young headman of Kiau, was meditating taking a second 
wife, as his first had proved barren ; but probably he woul 
divorce his old wife before taking a new one, since divorce 
is easy, and depends only on the husband's wish. 

If a man divorces his wife on account of some serious 
fault on her part, he can obtain the return of at least a part 
of her herian from her relations, but if he sends away his 
wife merely at his own wish, the herian cannot be recovered. 
The herian paid for a widow or a divorced woman is about 
half that for a virgin. Formerly the punishment for incest 
was death. 


Courtship, Marriage, Divorce, ^c. 123 

Among the pagan races of Borneo much greater facilities 
for courtship are allowed than among the Mohammedans, 
though the women of the Mohammedan tribes are free as 
compared with their sisters in other countries. The Sea 
Dyak lover visits his inamorata stealthily by night, when 
the family are supposed to be asleep, though, as a matter of 
fact, these visits are usually known to the girl's relations and 
connived at. It is said that this method of courting seldom 
results in immorality. (Various authorities quoted by Ling 
Roth, Natives of Sarawak and British North Borneo^ vol. i., 
pp. 109 and no.) Sarebas Dyaks have now, however, 
given me a different account. One man informed me that 
if the parents of a girl did not connive at her responding to 
I her lover's advances there would be little chance of the girl 
I marrying. As far as I have been able to discover, Dusun 
^ methods of courting are somewhat similar to those of the 
Dyaks, though I am inclined to think that their nocturnal 
visits are not always so blameless. 

As mentioned in another chapter, at Tuaran, where many 
of the youths and young men wear long hair, it is customary 
for the maidens to search for insects among her lover's 
locks, and it is said that these are often eaten ! In some 
villages of the Tempassuk it is usual for a man, when he 
wishes to notify the parents of a girl that he intends to 
court their daughter, to take off his coat and hang it up 
near the door of the house. 

At Tuaran, marriages, especially those of the children of 
people of importance, are often arranged at an early age. 
The chief negotiations which must be gone through before 
marriage can take place are concerned with the fixing of the 
amount of berian (Jit, a giving), which must be paid by 
the suitor to the girl's brother, as the berian becomes his 
property. The aged women-kind of both parties usually 
take a considerable share in the discussions relating to this 
subject. When the price is fixed the marriage can take 
place. Sometimes a berian is paid in kind, sometimes in 

124 Courtship, Marriage, Divorce, 

money ; and an example of a Tuaran herian is given in 
another chapter. 

When a Dusun dies, the first thought of his relatives 
after burying him is to rid themselves of the presence of his 
ghost, in case it should be still lingering about the house, or 
should be able to find its way back from the graveyard. At 
Piasau in the Tempassuk the v^^omen who lament at the 
burial cry aloud to the spirit of the deceased : " Do not stop 
here, for your way lies to the left " {i,e, to Mount Kinabalu, 
the home of dead Dusuns). At the same village the 
bamboo bier on which the body is carried to the grave-side 
is hacked to pieces, and I have heard that in some localities 
the people, on returning from a funeral, slash at the steps 
and door of the house in which the death has occurred, in 
order to drive away the spirit of the deceased. 

After returning from a funeral, all the mourners betake 
themselves to the river to bathe, I imagine in order to 
cleanse themselves from the pollution of having taken part 
in a burial. In the village of Tambatuan, and probably 
elsewhere, the inhabitants of a house in which a death has 
occurred are tabu, and remain secluded for a week. Accord- 
ing to Dusun ideas it would be very unlucky to wear the 
clothes of a dead person, so these are hung up over the 
grave, and at Tambatuan those of virgins are embroidered 
before disposing of them in this way. I believe that this 
only applies to the clothes actually in use at the time of 
death. Valuable cloths, etc., stored away are, I think, kept 
and used. 

After a funeral, the grave is left to fall into decay 
untended, the Dusuns being generally unwilling to enter 
graveyards unless it is necessary to bury a corpse. The 
grave is surrounded with a fence, which at Kampong Piasau 
and many other villages is decorated with wooden models of 
the possessions of the deceased — fowls, buffaloes, spears, 
guns and parangs^ or of other objects, such as snakes, tor- 
toises, wild cattle and deer. Probably in bygone times. 

Courtship, Marriage, Divorce, ^c. 125 

when the Dusuns were not so well ofF as they are now, all 
the personal belongings were deposited on the graves, as 
are clothes at the present day. An offering of this kind to 
the dead would not involve such sacrifices then as now, since 
most of the articles in use before the Dusuns were able to 
obtain brass-ware and other luxuries, and had few if any 
cattle, would be easy to make at home. 

With the growth of wealth and the increased desire of 
acquiring it, it is likely that excuses would be made that 
models were quite as acceptable to a spirit as the real 
articles; since spirits, fortunately for those troubled by 
them, are known to be notoriously stupid and easy to 
deceive. It thus became customary to place on the grave 
models of all the objects the deceased had used in life, and 
of such animals as he was accustomed to eat. 

The only case in which the actual objects themselves are 
offered to the spirit, as mentioned above, is that of clothes, 
which are usually inexpensive ; and, having been worn on 
the body of the deceased, are probably supposed still to be 
animated by a portion of his spirit, somewhat as pieces of 
cloth from the shroud or garments of a saint are in Roman 
Catholic countries supposed to retain part of his virtues and 
to be capable of performing miraculous cures. The Dusuns, 
moreover, owing to their belief that the spirits of the dead 
only work mischief when they linger near the dwellings of 
mortals, would hastily get rid of anything which they sus- 
pected of having an intimate connection with a dead man's 

Before describing Dusun graves and methods of burial, it 
may be as well to say a little about Mount Kinabalu, the 
home of departed spirits. The Dusuns relate how the 
ghosts of the dead on their way to their last home cross a 
small river at the foot of Mount Kinabalu, and also leave 
certain traces of their passage at a large rock on the way up. 
This rock, which is said to be situated between Kinabalu 
and Mount Nunkok, is called Pomintalan. Here the ghosts 

126 Courtship, Marriage, Divorce, ^c. 

place, the men a cigarette wrapper, the women some thread, 
and the children some bits of dirty rags. The following 
Httle legend tells of the passing of the ghosts over the 
Koraput (or Uraput) : — 

The Path of the Ghosts 

Told by Sirinan of Kampong Piasau, Tempassuk District 
There is a small river to the laut (seawards) of Kampong 
Kaung named Koraput. There are large stones in the middle 
of it, and the people say the ghosts stop there on their 
way to Kinabalu. If the ghost of an old man is passing the 
sound of his walking-stick is heard tapping on the stones, if 
of a young bachelor the sound of his sendatang (a kind of 
native banjo), if of a young unmarried woman the sound 
of the toreding (a kind of wooden or bone jews' harp), and 
if of a child the sound of weeping. 

In consequence of the Dusuns' beliefs with regard to 
Kinabalu, an ascent of the mountain is not to be undertaken 
lightly. The spirits of the dead must be propitiated with 
offerings and a gun fired to warn them of the approach of 
human beings. Sompat, one of the headmen of Kiau, 
usually performs the ceremony when a European wishes to 
climb the mountain, and from him I obtained the following 
details. The sacrifice to the spirits consists of seven eggs 
and a couple of fowls, and there is a menghaji (religious 
ceremony). It is said that when the ceremony is being 
performed a spirit is often heard to cry out in answer. 

On the way up the names of streams passed or of places 
in the jungle may not be mentioned, nor may the mountain 
be called by its usual name, but if it is necessary to refer to 
it the Dusuns instead of Nabalu say Agayoh ngaran (big 
name). If no ceremony were performed, it is thought the 
party making the ascent would be unable to find their way 
home. One European who undertook the climb refused to 
fire a gun before starting, and the continual wet weather 

Courtship, Marriage, Divorce, ^c. 127 

which was met with was put down to this cause. Un- 
fortunately I never had an opportunity of getting farther 
than Kiau village, on the lower slopes of the mountain, where 
I met old Sompat. Mr J. C. Moulton, curator of Sarawak 
Museum, who has recently climbed the mountain, says that 
two shots are also fired at the top, the gun being pointed 
upwards, facing north {Sarawak Gazette^ November 1913). 

The word Kinabalu, as Mr Moulton, I think rightly, 
observes, is probably derived from Nabalu (the Dusun word 
for the home of the dead), and does not mean " Chinese 
Widow " (mountain), " China Balu or Kinabalu," as stated 
in so many works on Borneo. There is a village in the 
Tempassuk valley which seems to be called indifferently 
Kinabalu or Penelabu, and probably this also has nothing to 
do with China or the Chinese. 

To turn now to methods of sepulture. All good Dusuns 
wish to be buried in a jar; but a jar is expensive, and so the 
bodies of poor people are buried in a rough wooden coffin or 
wrapped up in mats. If the deceased is sufficiently well off 
to afford a jar, the body is slipped into it legs first and 
pushed, or even stamped, down till it does not protrude. 

Some few years ago there was a bad epidemic of small- 
pox in the Tuaran district, and the father of my Dusun 
servant, Omboi, caught the disease and "died." Where- 
upon his relatives, having obtained a jar of sufficient size, 
slipped the body into it, intending to bury it immediately. 
The neck of the jar was, however, rather narrow, and when 
the mourners began to stamp the body home with the flat of 
their feet, the "corpse" got up and objected to the process 
in forcible language. The patient had merely been in a 
state of coma, and he eventually recovered. 

If the mouth of a jar is too narrow to admit the body, the 
vessel is cut in two horizontally at its greatest circumfer- 
ence, the body packed into the lower portion and the top 
replaced and fastened down with some kind of resin. The 
jars are not buried at any great depth and it is common, in 

128 Courtship, Marriage, Divorce, ^c. 

walking about near villages, to come upon an old graveyard 
with many of the jar tops showing above the ground. 

At Tuaran, after a period of years, old jars are dug up 
and used again ; but at Tenghilan, not far from the boundary 
of the Tuaran and Tempassuk districts, I was told that such 
an act would be looked on with the greatest horror, and that 
the desecrator of a grave would have been put to death in 
the old days. As far as my experience goes, I believe that 
in the Tempassuk the feeling about opening a grave would 
be similar to that of the Tenghilan people. 

Here we have a good example of the differences which 
can often be found in small areas, and this may well serve as 
a warning against making hasty generalisations, a thing which 
is unfortunately only too common. It is obviously unsafe to 
say that the Dusuns do such-and-such a thing on evidence 
obtained from one or two villages, for it is always quite 
possible that exactly the reverse may be the custom two or 
three miles away. 

But to return to the subject under review. Occasionally, 
when the only jar obtainable is not quite big enough to 
receive the corpse, the body is buried in a rough wooden 
cofEn and the jar set upright at the head of the grave. I 
observed an instance of this at Kampong Ghinambur. In 
the graveyard of Piasau village I have also seen very small 
jars set in the same position. Presumably these were the 
graves of poor persons whose relations could not afford to 
buy big jars, as the vessels did not seem to have been used 
for holding food or water. I was, in fact, told that it was 
not customary to make food-offerings at the grave in this 
village, but at Tuaran I have been informed by natives that 
it is the general usage. At Piasau the graves were sur- 
rounded by a rectangular bamboo fence decorated with 
wooden models, put there as offerings. 

The graves themselves, which were marked by raised 
mounds, were covered with a cbevaux de frise of sharp 
bamboo points to prevent wild pigs from routing up the 

Courtship, Marriage, Divorce, ^c. 129 

body. Over the mounds were erected small wall-less huts 
roofed with palm leaves, the eaves of which were sometimes 
roughly carved, or in place of this a couple of umbrella-like 
structures covered with European-made calico were set up. 
Occasionally a wooden figure was placed under the hut, but 
whether this represented the deceased, or was an offering, I 
was unable to find out. 

It is possible that if placed there with the latter intention 
it may have represented a slave slaughtered in order that the 
dead man might have company on his journey to the land of 
shadows. This is only a suggestion, and I have never heard 
of that special kind of sacrifice having been made among the 
Dusuns in former times, though, according to Mr W. B. 
Pryer, some of the inland tribes used to kill slaves (surmungup) 
in order to send messages to dead relatives by their aid 
(W. B. Pryer, J,A.L^ vol. xvi., p. 234), while various 
writers bear testimony to the fact that among other tribes 
slaves were frequently sacrificed on the death of a chief or 
any important man (Ling Roth, vol. i., p. 157. Various 
writers quoted). 

Among the Dusuns, I believe, as among so many primitive 
people, death is scarcely looked upon as a natural event, at 
any rate in the case of the young. 



GONGS, those instruments so beloved by the Dusiins 
and by all the native races of Borneo, have been 
mentioned several times elsewhere; they are re- 
garded as valuables, and have become a sort of currency. 
A Dusun is almost as great a connoisseur in the matter of 
gongs as a European collector is with regard to old china 
or silver. Should he be of industrious and saving habits, his 
money will be expended, if not in wife-buying, in the pur- 
chase of either a gong or a buffalo; but either wives or 
buiFaloes can be paid for in gongs, or in the case of the latter 
vice versa. 

When an expensive instrument is for sale, great is the 
gathering of the cognoscenti \ it is tapped for flaws, its 
workmanship examined and criticised, its age estimated, and 
its tone tried by frequent beatings. An intending buyer 
having been found, there comes a long haggle as to the 
price to be paid, and when at last this has been agreed 
upon, the purchaser carries oif his bargain in triumph to 
show to his friends at home. Everybody being interested 
in gongs, the native virtuoso has the advantage over his 
European brother, for a Dusun returning home after having 
'' picked up a bargain " is not met with the same blank faces 
and inane remarks that so often greet the collector at home 
when he displays his latest acquisition to the circle of his 
friends and acquaintances. 

New gongs are considered of comparatively little value ; 
but old specimens of the tawag tawag — a gong with a deep 
tone, a large and prominent boss, and a deep edge — or of 
the chenang — a shallow gong with a boss almost on a level 


Musical Instruments, Music &^ Dancing 131 

with the face — are most sought after. The price of one of 
these may run to as much as two hundred or three hundred 
dollars, a variety of the chenang called the chenang kimanis 
being especially prized. Besides the tawag tawag and the 
chenang there are two other kinds of gongs which are com- 
paratively cheap : one of these, the agong^ is a large shallow 
gong with a fairly big boss ; the other, the tenukol^ has, iA 
some cases, no boss at alL 

Gongs are struck with a wooden mallet, which is padded 
with raw rubber or cloth. The note of a gong struck with 
an unpadded mallet is too hard, while treatment of this kind 
tends to ruin the instrument by cracking it where the boss 
joins the face, the metal here, which is usually rather thin, 
having to take the full force of the blows. 

Though Dusuns are capable of casting a few small articles 
in brass, I do not think that they have ever attempted to 
manufacture gongs. Those which are valued by them at 
the present day seem to have been made in Brunei, Java 
and perhaps China. The Dusuns, however, are not without 
musical instruments of their own. The young bachelors 
strum on the sendatang^ a kind of two-stringed banjo or 
mandolin, which, with the exception of its face, is roughly 
carved, belly, stem and all, out of a single block of soft 
wood. The strings, made of some vegetable fibre, are in- 
serted under a small piece of wood attached to the face or 
sounding-board, and are tied at their other extremities to 
a couple of keys, which pass through the stem. A sHght 
bridge keeps the strings from contact with the face of the 

Bamboo flutes of two kinds are in common use : one of 
these is played in the orthodox manner with the mouth, 
the other with the nose, the end of it being placed against 
one nostril, while the other nostril is stoppered with leaves, 
rags or tobacco. Small jews' harps {toriding) are very 
cleverly cut out of a single piece of palm wood or bamboo, 
the tongue being usually weighted by two little pieces of 

132 Musical Instruments, Music ^ Dancing 

wax or wild rubber. The instrument is held before the 
mouth and played by jerking a string attached to one end. 
Another wind instrument which I have not yet mentioned is 
the so-called Dusun organ (jempatari)^ which is made by the 
natives of the interior. 

Most of those seen in the hands of Tempassuk people 
have been brought from up-country by natives when carry- 
ing down tobacco to market, but, if I remember rightly, 
they are sometimes made by the people of Kiau and a few 
other Tempassuk villages. 

The instrument consists of a long, straight-necked gourd 
or calabash into which are fixed eight reeds, four shorter 
in one row, and four longer, but of different heights, in 
another, which together form a bundle of two rows with a 
rectangular section. These are bound round with lashings 
of thread and are fixed into the gourd with some black 
waxy substance, I believe dirty beeswax. The neck of 
the calabash forms the mouthpiece, and the notes are pro- 
duced by blowing into this, while opening and closing 
the free ends of the short reeds with the fingers of the 
right hand, and working on two stops, one at the base of 
each terminal long bamboo, with the left. Every reed has a 
hole at the base above the level of the gourd, and a small 
tongue of bamboo skin (?), which is partly responsible for 
the production of the sounds, fixed into its lower end. 

A peculiar instrument which is sometimes called a " harp " 
is played by the women. It is made from a length of 
bamboo, and the strings are formed by carefully cutting 
thin, narrow, longitudinal strips from the outside of the 
section all round, leaving them attached to the body of 
the instrument at the ends. They are then keyed up by 
pushing little pieces of wood under them at the ends till 
each one will give the right note. Sometimes a round hole 
is made in the body at one side, presumably with a view to 
increasing the sound. 

Another favourite instrument is a wooden dulcimer or 

Musical Instruments, Music &^ Dancing 133 

xylophone. By travellers in the hill districts the sound of 
one of these instruments is frequently to be heard, coming, 
as a rule, from some sulap (small hut) in which a family is 
living in order to guard their padi crop from marauding beasts 
and birds. Sets of small gongs (kulin-tangan)^ specially 
made for the purpose, are played like a dulcimer, being 
placed on two strings stretched across a long wooden frame. 

I have only once seen a whistle in Borneo, and do not 
know whether it is a truly native instrument or not. This 
particular specimen, which is double, is cleverly made from 
two small pieces of bamboo. I remember that I got it from 
a native headman, who produced it when I visited his village, 
and wanted to summon the owner, a small Dusun youth, 
for blowing it under his (the headman's) house. I gave the 
youngster a lecture on good behaviour and appropriated 
the whistle. 

Drums with bodies made out of sections of hollow tree- 
trunks are common. The skin facings of these — they are 
single-ended — are tightened by wedges driven in below the 
rattan bindings which hold the facings fast to the wood. 
At Tuaran I have seen a large cylindrical piece of wood, 
about four feet long, hollowed out on the inside, and opening 
to the outside by a comparatively narrow slit running almost 
the whole length of the wood. The instrument when 
struck with a sort of club gave out a fairly clear note. The 
particular specimen that I saw was used for striking the 
hours on an estate, but was, I suppose, of native manufacture. 
An exactly similar instrument is made by the Malays of the 
Peninsula, who call it kerantong. 

As I have mentioned in another chapter, the general 
season for rejoicing, feasting, the telling of folk-stories and 
musical parties is after the harvest has been gathered in. 
Judging by the number of instruments they make, and their 
fondness for playing them, I should say that the Dusuns are 
distinctly a musical people. Of course native music can 
scarcely be judged by European standards, but some of the 

134 Musical Instruments, Music &^ Dancing 

tunes they play on the xylophones and on the so-called 
" organs " are not at all unpleasant. 

I do not remember that I was ever particularly struck by 
their singing, and I never had time to take down any of their 
songs, but Witti says that the inland Dusuns have " pretty 
songs of their own." The chief thing that I can remember 
about Dusun singing is that my boy used to give vent to 
dismal-sounding love-songs in the servants' quarters about 
a girl of whom he was enamoured, but who did not return 
his affection. So thoroughly miserable did he succeed in 
making himself that the tears used to course down his 
cheeks and fall to the ground. Having suffered from the 
youth for some months, I did not wonder that the lady 
disliked him, and heartily sympathised with her. 

Gongs and drums are used at all native dances, but except 
for the religious kind performed by the women of Tuaran, 
which are largely of a posturing nature, I can only remember 
having seen a Dusun dance on one occasion. This was a 
war-dance performed by a Tuaran youth, and in it, after 
a good deal of preliminary posturing, he went in pantomime 
through all the actions of a native engaged in warfare — the 
spying of a foe from a distance, the stealthy creep through 
bushes or tall grass, the gliding behind tree-trunks, the 
sudden rush of a surprise attack, the rout of the enemy and 
the swaggering bravado of the victors. 



THE Dusun's wealth, at any rate until fairly recent 
times, consisted almost entirely of property, money 
being only obtainable with the greatest difficulty ; 
and, even at the present day, so deeply is this love of property 
ingrained in him that probably not a very great deal of hard 
cash would be found hoarded up in the villages, the Dusun 
man's or woman's one idea being to turn his or her savings 
into goods. This is perhaps scarcely a subject for wonder, 
as an up-country native has remarkably little use for money, 
unless it be to buy luxuries at the Chinese shops — a method 
of dissipation to which, fortunately, he has not so far taken 
very kindly. 

The forms of property which chiefly find favour are old 
brass gongs — concerning the age and tone of which the 
Dusuns are great connoisseurs — other articles of old brass- 
ware, such as the large betel boxes called chelapa^ buffaloes, 
cattle, rolls of dark blue cloth to be purchased at the Chinese 
shops, and in Tuaran and Papar the old Chinese jars which 
are regarded as sacred and to which an annual sacrifice is 

In the old days brass cannon, krises and spears were also 
regarded as desirable property, but, with the passing away 
of the use for such things, they are not now so much sought 
after, though the first still command a good price as old 
brass. All these articles being particularly in request, and 
trade being formerly entirely conducted by means of barter, 
there arose gradually a sort of standard in values by which 
the dearer articles were appraised as being worth so many of 
those which were less expensive: a gong worth so many 

136 Wealth, Currency, Trading, Markets 

buiFaloes; a jar worth so many pikuls^ of brass (cannon); 
a kris worth so many kayu (the usual term for a standard 
roll) of cloth. In this way a sort of rough system of 
currency was established, since all the articles mentioned 
above were readily taken and received — ue, became a sort 
of legal tender. 

To obtain a wife a Dusun man has to hand over a certain 
sum, termed a herian (a giving), to the girl's parents. At 
the present time this is occasionally paid in money, but the 
annexed example of a typical Tuaran herian demonstrates 
clearly some of the articles which were formerly considered 
valuable and passed as currency, this particular selection of 
articles being the price of a wife. The inertia and conserva- 
tism of ancient custom have preserved for us this record of 
the value which used to be attached to articles which are 
rapidly becoming obsolete. 

A Tuaran '' Berian'' 

{A kind of gong which may be 
worth anything up to $200 
or more. 
{A kind of gong which may be 
worth anything up to $200 
or so. 

1 rantuka .... A small brass cannon. 

2 kamuggi with two silver / The hamuggi is a ceremonial 

cones on each \ necklace. 

I spear 
I kris 

At the present day silver and paper dollars have become 
fairly easy to obtain, but a great part of the trade of the 
district is still carried on by barter, and though a native may 
tell you that such-and-such an article on which he has set 
his heart is worth so many dollars, he is probably himself 
calculating its value in buffaloes and turning the result into 

1 The pikul = 100 katties. The kattie is i J lb. English. I believe the 
Sarawak Government still fines recalcitrant tribes so many pikuls of brass. 

rhofo by] BUNS'JD, A LoWLAND DuSUN, [L. H. N. Evans 

Headman of Tamboulian, Tempassuk District. The ornaments on the coat are silver buttons. 

The Dusun " Organ " and Banjo. 

These sweet-toned native organs (sempatan) consist of a gourd body and mouthpiece, and a number 
of bamboo pipes. The fingers are moved on the tops of the pipes to produce the various notes. 

Wealth, Currency, Trading, Markets 137 

dollars for your benefit — for it is in buffaloes that he intends 
to pay the purchase price — or, if he be well accustomed to 
talking about dollars, he may think of the purchase price in 
dollars and then reckon how many buffaloes will be equal to 
them, always with the idea of paying in cattle and not in 
cash. The price of buffaloes does not vary much from year 
to year : a fully grown and trained buffalo bull is generally 
reckoned as being worth about $25, a fully grown and 
trained buffalo cow about $20, while half-grown animals are 
priced more or less by the length of the horns measured in 
spans. A weaned buffalo calf will fetch anything from $5 

This method of bartering buffaloes often gives great 
trouble in civil cases. For instance, a man A sues B for 
a buffalo calf or the price thereof, for which B is said to 
be indebted to him. When the case comes into court it 
looks as if it were going to be a fairly easy matter to 
decide, until, after a little inquiry, it is found that it is 
necessary to go back into buffalo dealings which have taken 
place between the plaintiff and defendant during the last 
couple of years or more. Probably something like this has 
occurred : A buys a buffalo bull from B, which is priced at 
$25; for this he pays on account a cow buffalo worth $15, 
thus being still in debt to B for the sum of $10. After a 
long time and much dunning on the part of B, A, not having 
a buffalo of the exact value of $10, pays up with an animal 
whose price is agreed at $15, thus putting B into A's debt 
to the extent of $5. B promises to settle this debt with a 
small calf as soon as one of his animals shall have calved. 
Eventually B repudiates the debt and A takes out a 
summons for the buffalo calf. 

This is very likely by no means the end of the matter, 
cases of this kind often have several side-issues. The ball 
having once been started rolling, B's father-in-law turns up 
and wants a summons, stating that the original buffalo which 
was sold for $25 to A is his property, and that his son-in-law 

138 Wealth, Currency, Trading, Markets 

borrowed it when he saw an opportunity of doing good 
business with A. He has repeatedly requested the payment 
of buffaloes equivalent in value to the animal lent, but his 
son-in-law has been undutiful enough to tell him that he 
owes him nothing. He therefore asks for a summons. 

To do the Dusuns justice, this kind of case is commoner 
among the Bajaus, but still the same sort of thing does 
sometimes occur among the Dusuns of the lowland villages. 
Occasionally a buifalo-dealing transaction is settled straight 
away, the difference in price between two animals being 
made up with any small articles which the vendor may be 
willing to accept. Thus X may buy an animal worth $25 
from Y and pay for it with a buffalo worth |i8, a brass 
betel-nut box worth $4 and a spear the price of which is 
fixed at $3. 

In connection with the Dusun love of property, mentioned 
above, my old friend Lengok of Bengkahak — according to 
native ideas a man of some wealth — in whom the bump of 
acquisition was strongly developed, used to enrich himself 
very considerably at the expense of his Bajau neighbours by 
taking advantage of their improvidence. 

This was his description of how he obtained the goods 
with which his house was well stocked. " You see, Tuan," 
he said to me, "the Bajaus are a very lazy people, who 
scarcely ever plant enough padi to last them through the 
year: a few months after reaping, when they have eaten 
up all their rice, some of them are sure to come to me and 
ask me to lend them some padi till next harvest. I say: 
' Very well, I will lend you some padi, if you will bring me 
a nice piece of brass-work of some kind, and deposit it here 
as security until you pay me back.' So they bring me some 
brass which is worth a good deal more than the padi that I 
give them. Of course they never pay me back, for the 
next year they don't plant any more padi than they did in 
the year they came to me to borrow, but Bajaus never 
reckon on what will happen afterwards, so long as they can 

Wealth, Currency, Trading, Markets 139 

get what they want at the time, and, when their stomachs 
are empty, they don't trouble themselves as to how they 
are going to pay for the rice they borrow, nor do they re- 
member when they are planting padi how hungry they were 
in the year before, their only thought being what a trouble 
it is to plant at all. So they go on from year to year." 

Lengok had a contempt for the Bajaus which it was quite 
refreshing to meet with in a Dusun, as the latter people are 
generally peaceably inclined, while the Bajaus are, by train- 
ing and instinct, plunderers and robbers, and in former times 
oppressed the Dusuns very badly. Being lax Mohammedans, 
they of course pretend to look down on the Dusuns, saying 
that they are infidels, that their villages are unclean owing 
to the pigs they keep, and that they are always drunk. All 
this is said in the most irritatingly superior manner, and 
must be extremely galling to the Dusuns. Many Europeans, 
myself among them, get angry at hearing this sort of talk, 
since the Dusun man is generally a very decent, hard- 
working fellow, while the Bajau is almost invariably one of 
the biggest " wasters " to be found anywhere. 

Lengok's opinion of the Bajaus, as remarked previously, 
was the reverse of complimentary. " Why," he said, " they 
are always hungry, and they have got nothing worth having, 
no pigs and no toddy ; they must lead a wretched life. A 
Bajau dare not tap his coco-nut-trees to make toddy and get 
drunk for fear of what the other people in his village would 
say, for it is against the Mohammedan religion to drink intoxi- 
cating liquors, so those who want toddy come and hang 
round our villages and ask for drink, making out that they 
are not feeling well, and that they want it as medicine." 

But to return to the subject of trade. The Dusuns are 
the chief collectors of jungle produce, which now consists 
almost entirely of damar gum (salong), though small 
quantities of rubber, beeswax and rattans are still brought 
in. Some years ago wild rubber used to be obtained in 
fairly large quantities; this has, however, been worked 

140 Wealth, Currency, Trading, Markets 

out to such an extent in the Tempassuk that very few 
natives go into the jungle with the express purpose of 
collecting it. The Chinese are the chief buyers of jungle 
produce, and a great deal of trading in these commodities is 
carried on at the local markets, about which I shall have 
something to say presently. 

Formerly, when affairs in the Tempassuk were in a very 
disturbed condition, the Bajaus acted as middlemen between 
the Dusuns and the Chinese, since the latter were frightened 
to move far away from the coasts and Government protec- 
tion; but peace having now been established for several 
years, the Bajaus have gradually lost this lucrative form of 
employment. Apart from damar, the only other native 
product in which there is any considerable export trade 
from the Tempassuk is tobacco, which is grown to some 
extent on the valley slopes around Kiau, a village over- 
looking the Tempassuk river, situated on the slopes of 
Mount Kinabalu, and round many of the villages of the 

The chief markets of the Tempassuk district are Tamu 
(market) Timbang, held every Wednesday a couple of 
miles or so down-stream from Kotabelud, the Government 
post, and Tamu Darat {i.e. the up-country market), the site 
of which is located some seven miles up-stream from the 
same place. Tamu Darat is the more important of the two 
markets, and is held once in every twenty days, but a 
smaller market called Tamu Sesip (i.e. the market which is 
slipped in between, since it takes place between the large 
markets), which is held on the same ground on the tenth 
day after Tamu Darat, often fairly bids to rival it. Tamu 
Timbang is, however, coming more and more into favour, 
since a native who brings jungle produce from up-country 
can obtain slightly better prices there, and is enabled to 
make a selection of any articles be may require at the 
Kotabelud shops before returning home. 

Among the natives a great part of the trade in the 

Wealth, Currency, Trading, Markets 141 

markets is, as elsewhere, carried on by barter, though small 
articles are often paid for in money. The Chinese, too, 
vastly prefer bartering goods with natives to paying cash, 
as by this means they are enabled to obtain a double profit. 

The scene in a large market like Tamu Darat is most 
animated. The first arrivals on the ground are usually the 
Chinese traders from the shops, and the Bajaus and Illanuns 
from the coastal villages. Both Chinese and natives ride up 
to market, the usual mounts being buffaloes, bulls, cows or 
ponies. On arrival the Chinese busy themselves in arrang- 
ing on their small palm-leaf-roofed stalls a choice assortment 
of such articles as are likely to attract Dusun customers: 
cloth, matches, beads, gambler, buttons, small tin lamps, 
cheap tobacco-boxes, looking-glasses, knives and scissors, 
cotton-thread, needles, kerosene oil, cooking-pots and an 
assortment of various odds and ends, nearly all of which 
are cheap, nasty, and made in Germany. The Bajaus and 
Illanuns unload from their buffaloes sacks of small dried fish 
which look like white-bait, shell-fish, fresh fish of various 
kinds, packages containing native-made salt, native-woven 
head-cloths, and cooking- and water-pots of reddish-coloured 
clay, partly varnished over with damar gum. 

The Chinese, Bajaus and Illanuns, being more sophisti- 
cated than the Dusuns, need to be kept strictly in order to 
prevent them from plundering or cheating the latter ; conse- 
quently they are given one half the Tamu ground to them- 
selves, and are separated from the Dusuns by a rope 
stretched across the market until the signal to begin trading 
is given by the native chief in charge, who hoists the 
Government flag on the flag-staflF to declare the market open. 

While the Chinese and the Bajaus have been making 
their preparations, the Dusuns have been arriving ; those 
from the villages near by come in first, but those from a 
distance usually time themselves to arrive at a point about a 
mile and a half on the up-stream side of the market ground 
on the previous evening. Here they meet together and 

142 Wealth, Currency, Trading, Markets 

exchange news, discuss the prospects of the padi crop, plan 
buiFalo-thieving expeditions and cook their evening meal. 
The next morning they again cook and feed, and then come 
leisurely down to market. 

The weapons which nearly every man carries, usually a 
native chopping-knife and a spear, are left outside the 
market ground proper in charge of the policeman who 
assists the native chief in preserving order. 

On entering the Tamu each group of Dusuns, men, 
women and children, goes to the spot assigned by custom to 
their particular village. Near a fallen tree by the river you 
will find the Tiong people from the Ulu Tuaran, who bring 
with them the ornamental brass rings which Dusun women 
wear on their rattan-cane girdles, and which they are adepts 
in casting. Under each tree are the people of a different 
village, some bringing tobacco in the large carrying baskets 
known as bongwriy others with piles of native hats made of 
split and woven bamboo or rattan, tastefully ornamented 
with coloured patterns. Others, again, have brought great 
loads of white or amber-coloured damar gum ; a few women 
are arranging cooking-pots for sale, made of a coarse greyish- 
looking clay mixed with sand ; and perhaps in the hands of 
one of the up-country natives, who has brought down 
tobacco, may be seen one of those curious and sweetly 
toned Dusun " organs " (sempatan)^ made from a gourd fitted 
with bamboo pipes. 

When everyone is ready the signal to trade is given. 
Dusuns staggering under big loads of damar make their 
way across to the shops of the Chinese, where pandemonium 
is let loose owing to the huxtering cries of rival stall-keepers, 
each of whom tries to obtain the goodliest share of the 
trade for himself. Bajaus and Illanuns rush across and 
thrust their, often unwanted, wares upon up-country Dusuns, 
nearly snatching any articles they require out of the vendors' 
hands ; and all over the market arises a babel of tongues, 
Dusun, Bajau, Chinese, Illanun and Malay. This animated 

Wealth, Currency, Trading, Markets 143 

scene, the smells of dried fish, hlachan (a paste composed 
of small pounded shrimps — it only needs to be smelt once 
to be remembered), tobacco and fruit, the bright-coloured 
head-cloths, the brown limbs and bodies of Dusuns, the 
shining river, and the graceful trees which shade the market, 
make a visit to Tamu Darat a sight not easily forgotten. 

The Chinese, fortunately for the Dusuns, are no longer 
allowed to leave their stalls, as in former days a Chinaman 
would rush out like a spider from its web and "collar" 
some wretched Dusun who was weighed down under a 
heavy load of jungle produce, drag him to his stall and 
" buy " his goods before the Dusun had quite realised what 
was happening. Now the Dusun picks his way down the 
miniature street to the stall where he thinks he can obtain 
the best value for his goods, regardless of the blandishments 
of the store-keepers by whom he has already been cheated 

Occasionally the Dusun "gets one back" on the stall- 
holder, as witness the wails proceeding from the Chinaman 
in the corner stall who has just cut open a couple of large 
balls of jungle rubber which he bought from a Dusun a 
few minutes ago: these he now finds have nothing but 
rubbish inside them. The Dusun gentleman who sold them 
has meanwhile recollected that he has an important engage- 
ment at home. Dusun tobacco, too, is often not above 
suspicion. Strips of the cut and dried article are wound 
into bundles about nine inches long by four or five inches 
wide, a bundle of this kind being technically known as a 
perut (stomach). In buying a basket of tobacco it is usual 
for a purchaser to take several perut s of tobacco from below 
as well as above and open them, as it is by no means an 
uncommon trick for a Dusun to place good tobacco on the 
top of his basket, while all the rolls below have a core of 
rubbish and a mere wrapping of tobacco on the outside. 

The chief in charge of the market now generally makes 
a round of inspection among the tobacco sellers, with a view 

144 Wealth, Currency, Trading, Markets 

to detecting such swindlers; and this has had a salutary 
effect, adulteration of tobacco having become comparatively 
rare. A good deal of this native-grown tobacco finds its 
way through the hands of Chinese or Malay middlemen to 
Brunei, whence no doubt it is distributed to the adjoining 
territories. Native tobacco is smoked in the form of a 
cigarette, the wrapper being made from the leaf of the nipa 
palm. Bundles of these wrappers, ready cut, can be bought 
in all the markets, and are known as kiraL 

In coming down to market the Dusuns still use the old- 
time track, which chiefly follows the bed of the Tempassuk 
river, and it is as a rule only in times of flood that they will 
make use of the Government bridle-path to the interior, 
which they consider much longer — I have tried both and 
know which I think the best, the large, round and slippery 
stones in the bed of the river making exceedingly unpleasant 

A fair amount of trading in buffaloes takes place at some 
of the larger markets, but in order to put down buffalo 
thieving as far as possible the bargain has to be completed 
in the presence of a Government chief, and the animal must 
be marked with his brand. Very often a Dusun who has 
brought down a heavy load of jungle produce is enabled to 
take home a buffalo, which he has obtained in exchange for 
it from one of the Chinese stall-holders. 

Before bringing this chapter to a close, perhaps a few 
remarks may be made about the old beads which appear to 
have passed as currency to a certain extent. All old beads 
are considered valuable by the Dusuns, to whom age is quite 
as much synonymous with beauty and value as to the veriest 
virtuoso at home. Of course, in many cases, there is a 
great deal to be said on the practical side for the Dusuns' 
passion for old things ; for instance, modern gongs are much 
inferior in workmanship and tone to those which the Dusuns 

Most of the old beads of paste, porcelain or glass which 

A Market Scene in the Tempassuk District. 

I The chief article on sale in this corner of the market is Indian corn, of which two or three 

heaps of cobs can be seen. The market shown is held weekly. 

Wealth, Currency, Trading, Markets 145 

are seen in Borneo are, I should think, of Chinese origin, 
and some of them are valued at from fifty cents to one dollar 
each (is. 2d. to 2s. 4d.). The most interesting kinds of 
beads to be met with are not, however, of these materials ; 
they are called bongkas and appear to have been made by 
cutting small discs out of some kind of fairly thick marine 
shell, and piercing them with a drill. I have frequently 
made inquiries to try and find out where these beads were 
formerly obtained, but always without result, the Dusuns 
saying that they did not know, as they had come down to 
them from their ancestors. At present bongkas are reckoned 
by the string, a string consisting of a loop long enough to 
reach from the fork of the thumb to the point of the elbow. 
In most parts of the Tempassuk four strings (sometimes 
only three) of bongkas go to the dollar. 

Bongkas beads are chiefly used for decorating the fringes 
which are worn by women around the tops of their skirts, 
or sometimes a broad band of this beadwork is seen on the 
edges of the cowl-like hoods which they wear for field-work 
(the same kind of cap is also worn in the Tempassuk on 
ceremonial occasions). These beads are now becoming rare 
in the Tempassuk owing to the tempting prices offered for 
them by the Chinese shopkeepers, who, I understand, 
dispatch them to Sarawak, where they obtain quite large 
Sums for them from the wilder tribes. In fact so keen is 
the demand that I have known a party of three Dyaks to 
come to the Tempassuk specially to collect bongkas in order 
to re-sell them in their native country. Shell-bracelets are 
made to the present day by the Tempassuk Bajaus, but I 
have never been able to hear that they made shell-beads, 
which indeed are not found among them. 



THOUGH Dusun manufactures are well worth study- 
ing, they do not come up to the high standard of 
those of several of the other tribes of Borneo, 
notably the Kayans. The production of certain articles, 
such as cloth, is carried on in almost all villages, but in the 
case of others there is a tendency, without any apparent 
reason, for each village to have a speciality of its own. 

For instance, Penelabu (or Kinalabu) makes a very neat 
type of knife with a handle of pig-tusk, usually putting two 
in a case; and Kaung in the Ulu Tempassuk a particular 
kind of woman's hat, which I have never seen worn locally, 
though it is traded to, and finds favour in, Tuaran. In 
Tambatuan and in Pinasang, a village on the right bank of 
the Tempassuk above Tamu Darat, they make a particular 
kind of carrying-basket {bongun) ; at Tiong in the Ulu 
Tuaran, brass rings for women's girdles, and so forth. 

One of the first things which strikes a visitor to the 
Tempassuk is the curious hat worn by both pagan and 
Mohammedan natives. The makers of these hats are the 
up-country Dusuns, who trade them with their lowland 
brothers, and also with the Bajaus and Illanuns. The 
materials employed in their manufacture are strips of natural 
or dyed rattan and bamboo, while some types show exceed- 
ingly skilful workmanship. 

The types of hats made by the up-country Dusuns, and 


Manufactures 147 

worn by both men and women in the Tempassuk, are peculiar 
and varied ; they are made in the up-country villages, and an 
up-country Dusun will tell you at sight from which village a 
particular hat comes, as there are slight local differences in 
shape and also certain small marks in black and red rattan 
woven in near the edge of the hat, which, to one who 
knows, are sure guides to the place of its origin. There 
is a large hat worn by women of the kind made at Kaung 
and at Tamis in the Ulu Tuaran. These when sold at 
Tuaran fetch as much as two dollars each, though locally 
they can be bought a good deal cheaper. There is another 
peculiar type of woman's hat made, and worn, only at the 
village of Saiap, near Mount Kinabalu. 

Two kinds of hat are worn indifferently by both men and 
women, though hats are not so frequently used by the latter; 
in the Tempassuk a cowl-like hood of native cloth protects 
the head against the heat of the sun during work in the fields. 
Another kind is made by the people of Bundu Tuhan, a 
village of the Interior, just outside the Tempassuk boundary. 
Occasionally conical hats may be seen, which are cut out of 
a single block of light palm-wood, but they are distinctly 
rare. Hats are much more commonly worn by the women 
of the villages round Tuaran than by their up-country sisters 
of the Tuaran river or those of the Tempassuk district. 

Dusun cloth is woven on a very simple type of loom, a 
specimen of which is well illustrated in Ling Roth's Natives 
of Sarawak and British North Borneo (vol. ii., p. 30). 
The apparatus has a belt attached to one end of it, and 
when the other end has been tied to an upright of the 
house the weaver adjusts the band round her waist and by 
throwing her weight slightly backwards makes the loom 
taut for weaving. Needless to say, the apparatus is without 
frame of any kind, while the treadles, cloth-beam and warp- 
beam are all of the very simplest description, and consist of 
round wooden sticks of varying diameter pushed through 
the warp. A wooden sword is used for beating up the 

148 Manufactures 

cloth, the shuttle being also made of wood and of simple 

The materials from which Dusun cloth is made are lamba^ 
the fibre of a species of wild banana, cotton, or thread made 
from some kind of tree-bark. These may either be mixed 
— e,g, a cloth may have a warp of lamha and a woof of 
cotton or bark-thread — or used singly. 

When finished, the cloth is dyed with native indigo and is 
then ready for making up into the skirts, hoods or trousers 
for which it is chiefly intended. There is a slight tendency 
for native cloth — and European cotton thread for weaving 
is coming into use to a certain extent — to be displaced by 
European goods, but it still is much in favour owing to its 
splendid wearing qualities. Cloth is not woven in the 
villages around Tuaran, but cloth-weaving is general in the 
Dusun villages of the Tempassuk, and also, I believe, in 
the upland villages of the Tuaran district. Some very fine 
cloths are made by the Rongus Dusuns who live outside the 
Tempassuk district in the direction of Kudat; these have 
elaborate patterns in white on a black background and are 
sometimes further ornamented by the insertion of a few 
strands of red thread. 

Pottery is made in many villages, the only type of vessel 
I have ever seen being a rather squat, wide-mouthed pot with 
a rounded bottom, which can be used either as a water-jug 
or for cooking purposes. The pots are made of a mixture 
of clay and sand, and when fired are of a greyish colour. 

Most Dusun villages have a blacksmith, who, if not capable 
of turning out fighting weapons, is at least able to make very 
effective blades for working-knives, especially for the large 
chopping-knives called parangs. These knives are kept in a 
state of almost razor-like sharpness, and every native wears 
one by his side. The blades are so forged that they do not 
last for a great number of years, as only the actual cutting 
edge is of steel, the back and sides being of soft iron. The 
method of manufacture is to weld a narrow strip of steel 

Manufactures 149 

between two broad pieces of iron, the steel being so placed 
between the edges of the latter that the greater part of it 
projects beyond them. Thus the steel cutting edge, which 
the natives constantly rub down on sharpening stones, is 
finally worn away, and only the iron remains, when the parang 
cannot be used any longer. 

Reaping-knives, toddy-knives for slicing across the flower- 
ing shoot of the coco-nut palm, knives for splitting rattan 
and small cased knives for general purposes are other pro- 
ducts of the Dusun blacksmith's forge, but in a few villages 
he has higher aspirations than the mere manufacture of work- 
aday tools. Most excellent fighting parangs with beautifully 
carved handles of stag's horn are turned out by the smiths 
of Kiau, the art of making them having originally been learnt 
from a Dyak settler. The blades of these parangs^ which 
are locally known as gayang, resemble in shape the Dyak 
parang Hang ; but both faces of the blade are alike, and are 
not, as in the case of the parang ilang^ respectively convex 
and concave. Weapons of similar type, but usually of some- 
what inferior workmanship, are made in several other up- 
country villages, chiefly outside the Tempassuk district. In 
the case of the ordinary working-knife, a Dusun can gener- 
ally tell you at sight whence it comes, as each village turns 
out a slightly different type of blade to that of its neigh- 
bours ; and I believe that gayang can also be ascribed to the 
village where they are made owing to slight differences in the 
engraved scroll-work on the faces of the blade near the back. 

Very creditable spears are made in several villages, Kiau 
again probably turning out the best. The blades are pro- 
tected from wet by a sheath made from two pieces of wood 
fastened together and bound with strips of rattan cane. 
The small sheath-knives mentioned above have handles of 
wood or natural boar's tusk, and the sheaths, like those 
of fighting weapons, are made of two pieces of wood fitted 
to the blade and fastened together with bindings of natural 
or coloured rattan cane. 

150 Manufactures 

One of the arts at which the Dusuns are adepts is the 
making of baskets ; some of these are of true basket-work, 
made from strips of rattan or bamboo ; others are formed 
from the red skins of leaf stalks of the sago palm pressed 
out and sewn together. The carrying-basket is one of the 
most important of the Dusun's possessions ; he takes it with 
him to his garden and brings home a heavy load of kaladi 
roots or padi, and in it he brings down to market the damar 
gum which he has collected in the jungle, or the tobacco 
which he has grown to sell. 

Two types of large back-basket are in common use in the 
Tempassuk, each kind being, as a rule, fitted with a board 
some foot and a half wide running from top to bottom along 
one side, and with three loop-straps of tree-bark. The 
board rests on the carrier's back; and of the straps, one 
is worn around the forehead or over the top of the head 
towards the front, while the other two go over the shoulders. 
Both types of basket are somewhat in the shape of a 
truncated cone and are carried apex downwards. One of 
them, a most excellent kind, is chiefly manufactured at 
Tambatuan and in a village above Tamu Darat — if I remem- 
ber rightly, the village is Pinasang. This basket, which 
goes by the name of bongun^ has a body made from sago- 
palm-leaf stalks, which are bound with a wooden or tree- 
bark rim at top and base, the actual bottom being of wood. 
It is further fitted with a wooden cover consisting of a round 
top with a rim made out of a strip of tree-bark. These 
baskets are splendid for holding personal belongings when 
on the march, since they are cheap, light and strong, are 
absolutely rain-proof and are built for the very purpose for 
which they are required. 

The other type, called basong^ is similar to the bongun^ 
with the exception that it has a much broader mouth and 
no cover. The basong is chiefly used for carrying jungle 
and agricultural produce. When a native is travelling light 
he generally uses another and smaller type of basket fitted 

Manufactures 151 

only with shoulder-straps. This kind of basket, which is 
called a bariet, stands about two and a half feet high, has a 
circular mouth with a wooden cover and a rectangular base 
with an edging of wood : the material of which it is con- 
structed is rattan cane. A bariet will hold sufficient articles 
for a native who is going for a few days' journey — a change 
of clothes, a betel-box, some sireh leaves, a little rice, some 
dried fish and possibly a bundle of charms to protect him 
from the hidden dangers which lurk in the forest. 

Brass-casting on a small scale is carried on in at least one 
village in the Ulu Tuaran, the chief articles made being the 
small brass rings and cylinders which are threaded on women's 
rattan girdles. I have never had an opportunity of seeing 
the casting carried out, but newly cast rings are frequently 
on sale in Tamu Darat, to which market they are brought 
down by Tiong or Tamis men. The metal for them is 
obtained by melting down old betel-boxes or gongs. 

I have dealt in another chapter with the making of such 
articles as fish-traps and also with the subject of house- 
building and the manufacture of various domestic utensils. 



THE Dusuns are by religion animists — that is to say, 
they believe that all objects, whether animate or 
inanimate, have, or at any rate may have, an in- 
dwelling spirit in them. Stretches of jungle, deep pools, 
mounds whose shape is out of the ordinary, points jutting 
out into the river, trees of peculiar growth, especially the 
species of Ficus which is called kayu ara by the Malays, 
are all thought to be the abode of spirits. To propitiate 
these and to ward off by means of offering or otherwise the 
evil spirits which cause sickness and disease is one of the 
chief objects of Dusun ceremonial observances. 

In addition to the propitiation of spirits, there are many 
omen-animals to whom attention is paid ; some of these, if 
met, betoken good luck, but woe betide the man who sees 
an animal of evil omen and disregards its warning ! he will 
be killed by a tree falling on him in the jungle, or a croco- 
dile will seize him .as he crosses a river; his padi crop will 
fail, or will be destroyed by rats and monkeys, or his wife 
or children will sicken and pine away. 

Apart from the belief in spirits, most of whom are evilly 
disposed to man, the Dusun has a somewhat hazy belief in 
a Supreme Deity called Kenharingan, who, with his wife 
Munsumundok, created the world and everything in it.^ 

Both the Creator and the Creatrix are beneficent, though 
they are to the Dusun mind too far away to take much 
interest in human affairs, but they have a son, Tawardakan, 
who is by no means well disposed towards humanity. One 
Dusun legend tells how when Kenharingan created men he 
1 The story of the creation will be found in the following chapter. 


Religion &^ Superstitions 153 

made them all equal ; there were no rich and no poor, and 
everyone was happy. Tawardakan, however, who was of 
a jealous and discontented disposition, disliked seeing man- 
kind in this easy condition, and brought it about that some 
men should become rich and others poor, which unfortunate 
state of aifairs persists until the present day. 

In addition to the beliefs mentioned above, in the valleys 
of both the Tuaran and Tempassuk observances in connec- 
tion with head-hunting and the propitiation of the trophies 
of skulls are still carried on to a small extent, though 
of course actual head-taking has been stopped for some 
years past. At Tuaran also we find the various customs 
connected with the cult of sacred jars, one kind to which 
reverence is paid being called the Gust, 

The Dusun's conduct, needless to say, is largely regulated 
by his belief in spirits and omens, and, in addition to the 
influence exercised by these, he is further hampered by the 
prohibitions and tabus which restrain his actions in many of 
his daily occupations. There are war tabus and birth tabus, 
house tabus and tabus for the padi-field, tabus to be ob- 
served in speaking and tabu days when no work must be 
done. But we must go into the Dusun beliefs in detail. 

One of the first things that strikes an observer on seeing 
Dusun religious ceremonies is the great part played by the 
women. They are the chief performers in all the more 
important religious rites — the men only undertaking the 
office of musicians, to accompany the women's chants — and 
are, in fact, priestesses, or at least such of them as have 
undergone the requisite traming. They are said, and this 
would form an interesting subject for further investigation, 
to conduct their ceremonies in a tongue unknown to the 
men, learnt during their period of instruction, which at 
Tuaran extends over some three months and costs the novice 
a considerable fee, at the present day generally paid in hard 

In the Tempassuk, and probably in the valley of the 

154 Religion &^ Superstitions 

Tuaran as well, though I do not know this for certain, each 
village has its own presiding deity or genius, who is known 
as the Kenharingan Tumanah^ the second word being, I 
think, of the same derivation as the Malay word tanah^ 
earth, or soil. Perhaps this statement is a little too positive. 
I make it owing to the phrase, " I am your Kenharingan 
Tumanah^"^ frequently occurring in folk-stories. It is possible 
from what I have learnt since writing the above that the 
Kenharingan Tumanah may be nothing more than the Earth 
Spirit (Hantu Tanah') of the Malays. There are Dusun 
legends of men of old having encountered their Kenharingan 
Tumanah under various guises. In swearing to speak the 
truth as witnesses in court Dusuns at the present day recite 
an oath which runs somewhat as follows : — " I swear by 
Kenharingan above and by the earth-god that I will speak 
the truth. If I do not do so, may a crocodile seize me as 
I cross a river, may my padi wither, or a tree fall on me in 
the jungle." A Dusun on changing his place of residence 
will generally sacrifice in his new home to appease the local 
spirits, and I remember meeting some Dusun coolies who 
were going up-country to work on the bridle-path and were 
taking fowls with them to sacrifice — possibly to the Ken- 
haringan Tumanah ; but according to Dusun ideas the whole 
world is full of spirits, most of whom are malignant. Doubt- 
less the birds would be eaten afterwards, but the spirits 
would have been called upon to drink the blood first, and so 
might be considered appeased. 

Not only do people going to live in a new place have to 
make offerings to propitiate the spirits of the soil, but 
natives of a village returning home after a stay in another 
district require to undergo a sort of " reHgious disinfection " 
in order that any evil influences they have brought back 
with them may be dissipated, this work being done by some 
of the women shamans. One of these performances occurred 
while I was stopping in Kampong Tambatuan. Similarly an 
ex-policeman who had returned to Tuaran, and was reported 

Religion &^ Superstitions 155 

to have taken a head somewhere or other, had to have a 
ceremony performed over him to prevent the spirit of the 
dead man causing him trouble. 

The rehgious rites performed by the women priestesses 
are denominated by natives, when speaking Malay, by the 
general term mengbaji, a word apparently derived from the 
Mohammedans, as a haji is a man who has performed 
the pilgrimage to Mecca (Malay: naik baji= to go on a pil- 
grimage). The word means to recite or read out or learn 
anything connected with religion (e.g. menghaji Koran = to 
learn to recite from the Koran). It is, as far as I know, 
only used by Dusuns when speaking Malay. The word 
used by up-country Dusuns of the Tempassuk, which means 
to perform a religious ceremony, is memurinait. There are, 
of course, menghajis for many different purposes, the most 
important being that connected with the annual expulsion of 
evil spirits from the village. This ceremony, which at Tuaran 
is called mohog^ is carried out by a procession of initiated 
women, who go the round of all the houses in the village, 
attended by men who act as drum- and gong-beaters. The 
celebrants stop here and there, while oiFerings are made and 
posturing dances performed in time to the chants of the 
women and the musical accompaniment of the men. When 
the circuit of the village has been accomplished the proces- 
sion wends its way to the river-bank, where a raft laden 
with such things as evil spirits may be thought to delight in 
— food, models of men and women, buffaloes, deer and other 
animals — is moored in readiness. The spirits, who are 
supposed to have followed the procession to feed on the 
offerings — at Tuaran they are attracted by the squeals of a 
sucking pig which the women beat with little wands — 
pleased at the abundance of gifts before them, crowd on 
to the raft, which is then pushed off into mid-stream and 
carried away by the current. Needless to say that if the 
raft comes to shore anywhere near the village it is launched 
again as quickly as possible. The raft-builders do not seem 

156 Religion &^ Superstitions 

to worry if it goes aground near some village farther down- 
stream; they have got rid of their objectionable "hangers- 
on," and that is all they care about. 

Other menghajis are performed at Tuaran, the most im- 
portant of which are the the menghaji for rain, called 
menawar (Malay : tawar or menawar — Xo neutralise ?), when 
oiferings of rice and eggs are thrown into the river as a 
sacrifice to the water spirits; the menghaji after harvest, 
called menomboiy when offerings of rice are said to be placed 
on large stones ; the menghaji of the young rice, masalud^ at 
which a cock is sacrificed among the growing crops, a rough 
image of the bird made with its feathers set up on the spot, 
and water thrown over the rice, probably with the object of 
ensuring sufficient rain ; and the menghaji of the sacred Gusi 
jars, mengahau, 

A Gusi is a large jar of ancient Chinese porcelain. It is 
usually greeny-brown in colour, and, as far as I remember, 
a fairly large specimen would stand about three and a half 
feet high. At Tuaran, where these jars are venerated — 
they are not found at the present time to any extent in the 
Tempassuk, nor, I believe, in the up-country villages of the 
Tuaran district — the Gusis are kept in a railed-off" enclosure 
in an inner room. According to native ideas each jar has 
an indwelling spirit, which if not propitiated by an annual 
sacrifice of a buffalo, will bring misfortune upon the heads 
of its owners. Usually ajar is not owned by an individual, 
but by the members of a family, each of whom is entitled 
to its use for any religious rites they may wish to perform. 
At one time there used to be a great deal of litigation 
with regard to the ownership of Gusis, but at length 
this became so troublesome that a proclamation was issued 
which forbade a case with regard to the ownership of a 
sacred jar to come to court, but at the same time stipulated 
that anyone who had contributed a share of the purchase 
money was entitled to free access to and use of the Gusi 
whenever it might be required. Recourse may be had to 

Religion &^ Superstitions 157 

the law to enforce the rights of waris. According to 
native estimates, the Tuaran people are extremely well 
off, and from 2000 to 3000 dollars ($i = 2S. 4d.) is by 
no means an out-of-the-way price to pay for a single 

The Tempassuk Dusuns, as my friend Sirinan of Kam- 
pong Piasau told me, take a very prosaic and business-like 
view of the worship of sacred jars. When I was talking 
the matter over with him and asking him if there were 
Gusis in any of the down-country villages, he replied : " Oh 
no ! there are none left now ; we used to have some, but 
Brunei traders came along and offered us high prices for 
them, as they could sell them profitably at Tuaran and 
Papar, where they are very highly valued ; so we reflected 
that it was better to have the cash than keep jars which 
were the habitations of evilly disposed spirits, who required 
expensive sacrifices to keep them in a good temper, and we 
sold them off." 

I am inclined to think that there is a good deal of 
snobbishness behind the sacred-jar cult, as a family who 
can afford to buy a Gust and offer the annual sacrifices is 
rather inclined to put on airs about its possession. An 
incident in connection with a Gust illustrates rather well the 
natives' tolerance, if not reverence, for mad people. There 
used to be an old madman at Tuaran who was constantly 
stealing small articles from people's houses and making him- 
self a general nuisance. One day he took it into his head to 
carry off the family Gusi — I am not sure it was not someone 
else's family G«j/; anyway he tied a rope round its neck, 
threw the jar into the river and attached the other end of 
the cord to a tree which overhung the water. The owners 
of the jar, having found out that he had taken it, made him 
disclose the place where it was hidden, but when they had 
got it back in safety they neither punished him nor took 
any steps to prevent his doing further mischief. This story 
was told me by Mr H. W. L. Bunbury, who at the time was 

158 Religion &^ Superstitions 

District Officer, North Keppel. I knew the old man myself, 
and he once sold me a shield which I afterwards found out 
he had '' lifted " from a neighbour. 

Before leaving the subject of rehgious ceremonies I ought 
to say a word or two about the special dress which is worn 
by women at the Tuaran mengbajis, and also about certain 
instruments which are used in all religious rites. The dress 
of a Tuaran priestess consists of a short, tight-fitting jacket of 
blue or black Chinese cloth, and a ceremonial skirt of a kind 
of old cloth of variegated colours. The latter is said to have 
come originally from Brunei, and specimens are at the present 
time valued at about a hundred dollars each. The jacket is 
swathed with a long scarf of somewhat similar design and 
colour to that of the skirt, which is wound diagonally across 
the body. The scarves, which are also old, are called 
cbandei, and cost somewhere about thirty dollars a-piece. 

The front of the jacket over the scarf is decorated with 
a number of strings of old beads, each loop having two 
cone-shaped silver ornaments plugged with wood strung 
upon it. The cones are so arranged that they hang in pairs 
with their points directed downwards to form a sloping 
series on each side of the body. The whole ornament is 
called a ka/nuggiy and the points of each pair of cones are 
as a rule connected by a chain of snake-scale links. Long 
bugle-shaped beads of cornefian are frequently threaded on 
the more expensive kamiiggi and on the okob^ another kind 
of ceremonial necklace, which has a roughly crescent-shaped 
ornament of embossed silver on a copper background in 
front, and a number of small plates of similar materials 
depending from it at intervals. 

The hair, which is piled up into a mass on the top of the 
head, rather towards the back, has a row of four bamboo 
pins stuck into it running from back to front. The heads 
of these are ornamented with shuttle-cock-like bunches of 
feathers, generally those of the peacock pheasant or domestic 
fowl, while two of the bunches, those at the front and back 

Religion &^ Superstitions 159 

of the head, are decorated with hanging strings of green 
beetle-wings or bits of tin-foil. 

In all religious ceremonies the Tuaran priestess carries 
in her hand a peculiar rattle, called tetubit, which consists 
essentially of two discs of metal perforated at the edge and 
joined together by a string that is attached to a handle made 
from a single section of the carapace of a fresh-water turtle. 
Slightly varying forms are used for different ceremonies. 
With this instrument a clanking accompaniment is kept up 
during the chants and dances. 

In the Tempassuk the gunding^ an instrument which 
corresponds to the tetubit^ and is there usually made of 
several small rectangular sheets of brass, with some bunches 
of charms tied to the end of a short stick, is regarded with 
great veneration, one native even going so far as to call it 
the Dusuns' Koran. It is kept in a bamboo receptacle which 
is hung up against the wall of the house near the door in 
order that it may scare away any evil spirits who may wish 
to effect an entry. No man may handle it, and only those 
women who have been initiated as priestesses. In the 
Tempassuk the menghaji dress is much the same as that 
of every day, except that the curious cowl-like hood of native 
cloth which the women sometimes put on for field-work is 
always worn, and clothes used for religious ceremonies are 
sometimes profusely decorated with old shell beads. In 
addition to the jacket, skirt and hood, a long cape is 
sometimes worn. 

To turn now to head-hunting in its reHgious aspects. 
Apart from the sporting side of the pursuit, where the 
heads are considered merely as trophies and signs of the 
prowess of the warrior, there is to a certain extent an 
undercurrent of meaning. According to the old custom of 
many countries, the killing of a human victim was considered 
necessary to ensure the success of the crops, and at the 
erection of a new house a head was buried under the central 
post in order to pacify the outraged genii of the soil, who 

i6o Religion &P Superstitions 

had been disturbed by the operations of the house-builders. 
Sir Charles Brooke, in speaking of the Dyaks, says that 
feasts in general are " to make their rice grow well, to 
cause the forest to abound with live animals, to enable their 
dogs and snares to be successful in securing game, to have 
the streams swarm with fish, to give health and activity to 
the people themselves, and to ensure fertility to their 
women. All these blessings, the possessing and feasting 
of a fresh head are supposed to be the most efficient means 
of securing." 

It is easy to understand how a people with such beliefs as 
these would become attached to the custom of head-hunting, 
quite apart from any ideas of prowess or sport. 

I do not think that the low-country Dusuns of the 
Tempassuk have been addicted to the practice within recent 
times, and I have never seen any skulls hung up in their 
villages, but in the up-country head-hunting is still remem- 
bered, and old heads are to a certain extent venerated. 
Head-hunting was never so popular among the Dusuns as 
among the Kenyah Kayans of Sarawak and the Muruts, 
since they are essentially a peaceable race of cultivators, who 
have always been the oppressed rather than the oppressors, 
their wives and children in former days being frequently 
seized and sold into slavery by bands of raiding Bajaus and 
Illanuns from the coast. Still, a certain amount of head- 
hunting did go on between village and village, and occasion- 
ally a Chinaman paid the penalty for his temerity in following 
the pursuit of gain too far up-country. 

It is now very difficult to collect information with regard 
to head-hunting, especially if you are a Government officer 
and start asking questions in villages where the people do 
not know you very well. Most of the small amount of 
information I was able to get was gathered from Yompo, a 
young Dusun of Kiau with whom I was very well acquainted. 
After the return of a party from a successful head-hunting 
expedition all the participants are regarded as unclean until 

Religion &^ Superstitions i6i 

they have undergone a purificatory ceremony — in this some 
of the older women officiate, and ceremonial bathing forms 
a part. 

There was one small recrudescence of head-hunting shortly 
before I went to the Tempassuk, the murderers — two young 
Dusuns of Wasai in the Ulu Tuaran — being executed at 
Jesselton shortly after I first took up my residence in the 
district. They, apparently being wishful of distinguishing 
themselves, went and hung about the jungle near Kiau 
village, with which Wasai in the old days had been at feud, 
and seeing a woman working alone in one of the gardens, 
killed her. They were about to take the head, when, think- 
ing that they heard someone coming, they ran away and 
made for Wasai as fast as they could. After a long time 
sufficient evidence was obtained to bring the two offenders 
to trial, and they were in due course convicted. 

Three mementoes of the affair came into the hands of Mr 
H. W. L. Bunbury, then District Officer, North Keppel — 
namely, two little wooden models of a human head and a 
hat, which was of an ordinary Dusun conical type, except 
that its top was decorated with a short wooden pillar to 
the apex of which was tied a bunch of cock's tail-feathers. 
According to Yompo, these wooden models, which he said 
were called tenumpok^ represented the head which the men 
were unable to obtain, two models being made in order that 
each man might have a memento of the exploit. He further 
told me that a freshly taken head was put on a stone set in 
the ground. 

With regard to head-hunting customs at Tuaran I was 
informed by Adu, a middle-aged Dusun of that place, that 
the ceremonies performed on the return from a successful 
raid were called domali. At Tuaran, where many of the 
dwellings are communal houses, the skulls are hung up in 
the common verandah and are decorated with bunches of 
the long dried leaves of a plant called silad. In one case I 
was lucky enough to see a portion of a ceremony connected 

i62 Religion &^ Superstitions 

with head-hunting at this place. It appears that a poHce- 
man, a native of Tuaran, who had been serving away from 
home had taken a head, probably in some small skirmish 
with a rebellious tribe, and had returned home on leave. 
Thereupon it was determined that a ceremony must be per- 
formed and a buffalo killed, partly in order to celebrate the 
event and partly in order that the spirit of the deceased 
might be pacified, so that the head-taker might suffer no 
evil consequences. 

The portion of the ceremonies that I witnessed was a 
procession of seven or eight men walking in single file near 
a village, while they kept up a continual cry which had a 
peculiar whistling sound. Each man was wearing one of the 
brass-hiked swords known as pedang (see Chapter XIX.), 
but this was sheathed in a scabbard about four feet long, 
which broadened out to a width of six inches at its farther 
end. The lower edges of the scabbard were profusely 
decorated with human hair and its outer face with carved 
patterns, the whole weapon being called a tenujiipasuan. 
The leader of the party carried a conch-shell trumpet, on 
which he blew occasional blasts, and all wore attached to 
their belts large bunches of silad leaves. One man had 
a human vertebra to which was tied a triangular plaited 
ornament of the same kind of leaves. 

It is now unusual to see Dusuns with much tattooing on 
their bodies, as this was usually connected with head- 
hunting, but I have been informed that Tempassuk Dusuns 
who had participated in a successful head-hunting expedi- 
tion used to tattoo their bodies with two bands of patterns 
running from the shoulders to the hips, though I have never 
seen a man so decorated. Sir Spencer St John corroborates 
the information given to me, as he says that he saw men 
with "a tattooed band two inches broad, stretched in an 
arc from each shoulder, meeting on their stomachs, then 
turning off to their hips ; and some of them had a tattooed 
band extending from the shoulder to the hand." Accord- 

Religion &^ Superstitions 163 

ing to Mr Whitehead, "some of the men are slightly- 
tattooed with a few parallel lines on the forearm." 

Connected with war and head-hunting are certain tabus 
to be observed by the women left at home while their 
men-folk are away on an expedition. Probably my small 
collection of these is by no means complete, as other tribes 
have also tabus which the warriors must keep when on the 
war-path ; however, I give below such as I obtained : 

War Tabus — 

1. When the men are on the war-path the women must 
not weave cloth or their husbands will be unable tp escape 
from the enemy, because they will become uncertain in 
which direction to run. In the weaving of cloth the back- 
ward and forward movements of the shuttle represent the 
uncertain movements of a man running first to one side 
and then to another in order to escape from an enemy. 

2. Women may not eat from the winnowing basket, for 
the edges of it represent mountains, over which their men 
would not be able to climb. 

3. The women must not sit sprawling about or with their 
legs crossed, else their husbands will not have strength for 

On the other hand : 

4. It is lucky for the women to keep walking about, for 
then the men will have strength to walk far. 

In addition to war tabus there are many others which 
regulate conduct on special or general occasions — for 
example : 

1. If a person dies in a newly built village within six 
months of its completion it must be abandoned and another 
site chosen. 

2. Nobody but the owners may enter a new house before 
a religious ceremony has been performed over it. 

164 Religion &* Superstitions 

3. No one must hold or wear anything white, yellow or 
red where a religious ceremony is in progress. 

4. Nothing white, yellow or red must be brought into a 
house where women are dyeing cloth. 

Taking into account the Dusun's fear of evil spirits and 
the trouble which he takes to propitiate them, it is only 
natural that he should set great store by all kinds of objects 
which he considers useful as talismans. Charm-belts are 
very generally worn, and are made either of string network 
or of cloth, each talisman being netted or sewn into a 
separate compartment. Any object out of the common 
which a native finds is considered to have a magical value, 
and I have seen fossil shells, so-called bezoar stones, quartz 
crystals, rhinoceros' teeth and pieces of wood used for this 
purpose. The pieces of wood used as talismans are usually 
tied up into little bundles and are probably the fossil (?) 
wood which Burbidge calls kayu lagundi (tree of youth) in 
Gardens of the Sun^ p. 256. These charm-belts are always 
put on when a native leaves his house. Small brass bells 
are frequently worn by children: these are regarded as a 
protection against spirits, and possibly the little bells attached 
to the tops of Dusun women's skirts may also serve the same 

To turn now to the subject of sacred trees. In the Tem- 
passuk a certain tree, called the limpada^ is much venerated 
and feared by the Dusuns : it is by no means uncommon, 
grows to a fair height, has large leaves and a long, smooth- 
skinned, red fruit, which is of oval shape and about a foot 
long. According to Dusun legendry, Kenharingan has put 
a curse upon anyone who shall violate a tree of this species, 
the punishment being that the offender shall die of incurable 
ulcers. When, however, one of these trees is found grow- 
ing on a piece of ground which is required for a clearing it 
may be felled, but not until a religious ceremony has been 

I remember that once when walking along the bridle- 

Religion &^ Superstitions 165 

path which leads to the Interior, with Lengok of Bengkahak 
and Gumpus the headman of Tambatuan, I turned to the 
latter, who was wearing a sword (gctyct^g), and told him to 
cut away one or two branches of undergrowth which were 
overhanging the path. He replied that he was afraid that 
he would blunt his weapon, but as he had been using it 
pretty freely all the way along for a similar purpose I did 
not quite see the force of his remarks; however, I said 
nothing more about the matter, as the branches did not really 
block the road. When we arrived at our destination, 
which, if I remember rightly, was Gumpus's own village, 
Lengok, who was alone with me, said: "Tuan, do you 
remember that when we were coming along the path you 
told Gumpus to cut some branches and he said he was 
afraid of blunting his sword ? " " Yes," I said, " I remember 
it ; but what about it ? " *' Well, that was not the reason 
he would not cut the branches," said Lengok ; " it was 
because it was a young limpada-tree you wanted him to chop 

Another tree which is regarded by the Dusuns with 
some reverence is the banyan, and according to the people of 
Tuaran a tree of this kind is the dwelling-place of a spirit 
who keeps a large number of Gust jrts among its branches. 
Natives who have gone into the jungle are said to have seen 
these jars arranged in rows under a banyan-tree, which they 
have come upon suddenly ; but on taking a -second look the 
jars have vanished, for the spirit has seized them up again 
into the tree. 

Trees on rivers, especially those near river mouths, are 
frequently hung with shreds of cloth as propitiatory offerings 
to the water spirits, one special tree being generally set 
aside for the purpose. Another matter which plays a very 
important part in the everyday affairs of the Dusuns is the 
belief in omens. Omens may be either good or bad, but 
most of those to which the Dusuns pay attention seem 
to belong to the latter class. A flying swarm of bees is 

1 66 Religion &^ Superstitions 

considered a bad omen, and to hear the kijang (called pans by 
the Dusuns) or muntjac (Cervulus muntjac) bark when on a 
journey is considered such a bad sign that a native will 
either stop for the night at once or else go straight back 
home. The large millipede (Julus sp.) may be either a 
good or a bad omen if met with on a journey: if it is going 
in the same direction as the traveller it is a good portent, 
but if it is proceeding in the opposite direction, or crossing 
the path, some piece of bad luck is sure to happen to anyone 
who persists in continuing on his way. I remember being 
much amused, when we met a millipede which was walking 
across the path, at watching old Lengok trying to coax it 
into going in the same direction as ourselves. 

In addition to the fact that the Dusuns pay great heed to 
omens when working in the fields or on journeys, they have 
a peculiar monthly calendar of good and bad days which 
regulates their work in the padi-fields. On bad days no 
work must be done among the rice, or perhaps work may be 
done in the hill-rice fields but not among the swamp-rice. 
The month consists of two periods of lucky days, and two 
of unlucky, the last day of each of the good periods being 
called kopopusan (finished). With regard to the good days, 
ka-in-duoh^ ka-in-teloh^ etc., these are merely the Dusun 
ordinal numbers, 2nd, 3rd, etc. I have to thank Father 
Duxneuney of Putatan, British North Borneo, for eluci- 
dating a difiiculty I had in connection with the meaning of 
these words. 

The disease which the Dusuns most greatly fear, and not 
without good reason, is small-pox. Consequently resort is 
had to magic in order to keep this dread foe at bay. When 
news is brought that a neighbouring village has become in- 
fected, wooden models of spears and men are made and set 
up on the side of the village facing the source of infection. 
The idea is that protecting spirits are called up into the 
models by a religious ceremony which is performed, and 
that these fight with the spirits of small-pox. 

Religion &^ Superstitions 167 

I have already made mention of the Dusuns' respect for 
mad people, madness being attributed to possession by a 
spirit. In one case, when in residence at Kotabelud, I re- 
member hearing gong-beating going on during the whole of 
a day, the sound being the continual boom, boom, boom of 
a tetawag or tawag-tawag (a deep-toned gong), which when 
beaten in this fashion always denotes trouble. On sending 
to find out what was the matter, I was informed that a man 
had suddenly been seized with madness and had run away 
into the jungle; so the people of his village were trying to 
drive out the evil spirit which possessed him in order that he 
might return home. 

On another occasion when coming down from up-country 
on the day of the large market known as Tamu Darat, and 
nearing the market ground, I noticed an object which looked 
like a human body lying in the middle of the bridle-path. 
All the Dusuns who passed the object — there were many 
of them on their way to market — seemed to give it as wide 
a berth as possible. On coming close up I saw that I had 
not been mistaken. A Dusun youth, who was in some kind 
of a fit, or had fainted, was lying in the middle of the path. 
He was wearing a small carrying-basket of the kind called 
bareit^ and as he was on his back with his legs doubled up 
under him, and with his head bent right back, owing to 
the basket being between his body and the ground, he 
looked as if he was in danger of suifocation. I noticed that 
his eyes were open and that the coloured parts of the eyes 
were rolled so far up as to be almost hidden. 

I was just going to a ditch at the side of the path to get 
some water in my hands to throw over him when a Dusun 
who was with me called out : " Don't go near him, Tuan ! 
He's gila babi \j,e, pig mad, the Malay term for epilepsy], 
and he'll bite you, and then you'll get it too." How- 
ever, I got the water, and just as I was splashing it over 
the patient three Bajaus came up, who, not being frightened 
like the Dusuns, helped me to unfix the back-basket. In a 

1 68 Religion &^ Superstitions 

few minutes the fellow had recovered, and stumbled oiF 
to the nearest water for a drink, remarking that he was 
hungry and he supposed that this had made him faint. 

In sickness offerings are made to appease the spirits which 
are supposed to be the cause of the disease : small offerings 
are made at first, and if these do not have the desired effect 
then something more expensive is tried. " First of all 
we offer a fowl," said a Dusun to me, "and then, if that 
does not appease the spirit, we kill a pig." 

Before bringing this chapter to a close there are one or 
two other subjects about which I should like to say a little. 
One of these is with regard to the Dusun's belief in an 
after life. According to general ideas the spirits of the 
dead find their way to the top of Mount Kinabalu, which is 
their final abode. From the accounts given me, souls both 
of the good and the bad seem to reach this land of the dead, 
though de Crespigny says that " the wicked ones are left 
unsuccessfully trying to struggle and scramble up the rocky 
sides of the mountain." I intend, however, to say some- 
thing more about the souPs passage to Kinabalu in the 
chapter which deals with burial customs. 

There is one class of tabu in force among the Dusuns of 
which I have up till now omitted to make any mention, that 
dealing with the telling of personal names. According to 
Dusun custom it is tabu to mention your own name, that of 
your father or mother, your father-in-law or mother-in-law. 
If a European asks a Dusun his name he will usually give 
it, but he would not think of doing so to another native. 
A man who wishes to know a person's name must seek the 
information from a friend of his, who may speak the name 
without committing any breach of custom. The Dusuns 
say that if they were to mention the name of their mother 
their knees would swell. These tabus seem to be more 
strictly observed with regard to female relations than in the 
case of males. 

The making of blood-brothers is by no means uncommo 

Religion &^ Superstitions 169 

among the Dusuns. Omboi, a native of Tuaran, told me 
that when two men were wishful to become blood-brothers 
each made a cut in his wrist and then the other drank a 
little of the blood from the cut. After that, presents are 
exchanged, either fowls, tobacco or rice. In the Tem- 
passuk a fowl is sacrificed in the making of blood-brothers 
and each man says : " If I cheat you, may I become as this 
fowl, which has just been killed." 

There is among the Dusuns a peculiar custom called 
"paying sagit.^^ Sagit may often be merely compensation 
or damages for some offence committed. For instance, if a 
man's wife is insulted, he may demand sagit from the 
offender, the guilt of the latter and the amount of com- 
pensation being decided by the elders of the village. There 
are frequent cases of this kind of sagit at Tuaran. How- 
ever, sagit occasionally takes quite another meaning, of which 
I became aware through buying some human hair to re- 
decorate the scabbard of a sword. Having found a man 
with long hair, I asked him if he was willing to part with it, 
and, if so, how much he wanted to let me "crop" him. 
He answered that he would sell his hair to me for sixty 
cents, but that I must give him a fowl in addition to sacrifice 
as sagit. This was for the purpose of warding off any evil 
which might happen to him owing to his hair, a part of him- 
self, passing into my possession. Needless to say, I gave him 
his fowl, a matter of only another ten cents. 



SHORTLY after my return from Borneo I happened to 
remark to a certain learned ethnographist that I had 
made a rather large collection of native folk-tales. 
From what he said I gathered that he thought I would have 
been better employed had I devoted myself more to the 
study of sociology and other matters. With all humility I 
cannot say that I agree with him in this opinion. The folk- 
tales of a primitive people are, I think, one of the first 
things that should be collected, as through them we obtain 
an insight into the native's religion, his way of thinking and 
his methods of accounting for natural phenomena: besides 
this, in folk-tales we often come upon casual references to 
customs and beliefs of which we should probably never have 
heard under ordinary circumstances, and through these is 
opened a field for investigation which would otherwise have 
remained closed. 

Of course it may be objected that folk-tales are some- 
what similar almost the world over. To this I would 
answer that if we find that the people among whom we are 
living have similar tales to those of a people elsewhere, we 
have established a possible connection with this second 
people, and we may then search and see whether there are 
any other resemblances. Comparative religion and com- 
parative study of customs are always interesting, whether 
beliefs and customs of a like nature have arisen independ- 
ently in different places through the similarity of men's 
minds, or whether they have originated at some remote 
period in the history of man before our primitive ancestors 


Legends 171 

had become far dispersed from that quarter of the world in 
which they were evolved. 

Again, though it may be said that the counterpart of a 
tale can very often be found among some other race or tribe, 
yet there must always be minor differences from country to 
country, these being often extremely important as throwing 
light on the methods and manners of the people we are 

Sir J. G. Frazer, in his most useful little book of 
questions published by the Cambridge University Press, 
instructs the budding inquirer not to try so much to obtain 
information from natives by constant questioning as " to 
start the savage talking on some topic of interest, say on 
birth or death customs, to let him run on till he has ex- 
hausted himself, and then to jog his memory by asking him 
about points which he has either imperfectly explained or 
entirely omitted." This is excellent advice so long as the 
savage will fulfil his share in the matter by starting to talk 
about a subject which has been suggested and running on 
until he has exhausted himself. 

Unfortunately my experience among the aboriginal 
tribes of Borneo and of the Malay States is that in the 
ordinary way this is exactly what the savage will not do. 
Even if you are certain that he has every wish to help you, 
the probability is that when you ask him a question he will 
answer it to the best of his ability, and then sit mumchance 
until you question him again as to some point in his answer. 
The faculty of being able to give a connected account of 
any ceremony or occurrence seems generally very poorly 
developed. Occasionally exceptionally intelligent natives are 
to be met with. Where Sir J. G. Frazer's " instructions " 
cannot be followed for such a reason, the folk-story is often 
an excellent substitute. 

Apart from this, it is by means of the folk-tale that 
we are often enabled to become good friends with the 
native. If a man has told you a story and he sees that you 

172 Legends 

do not laugh at him, or show contempt, he will very likely 
tell you about other matters which he would be chary of 
mentioning to anyone who had not gained his confidence. 
One folk-story often leads to others, as the following little 
episode will show. 

In the course of a journey up-country I once put up in 
a small hut not far from a village which I had never visited 
before. As is usual, the village headman, accompanied by 
several followers, came down to meet me. After talking 
for a short while on local matters, the hut meanwhile 
becoming rapidly filled with natives, I soon became aware 
that the people were very suspicious and sulky. They sat 
and glowered, and would hardly answer the most innocent 
questions. I was able to guess without much difficulty the 
reason for their attitude, as an important man among them 
had recently been tried and sentenced for complicity in a 
head-hunting outrage. 

Having tried to show them, as far as possible, that I 
had not come to make any fresh trouble, I began to talk | 
to them about folk-tales, and to ask if they did not know 
any which they could tell me, only to be met with the 
answer : " Oh yes, the old people of long ago knew 
stories, but we, their descendants, have not heard them." 
"Why is that?" said I. "I expect we did not ask for 
instruction from them," replied the man who was answering 
me. " Well, if that's the case," said I, " you ought to be 
ashamed of yourselves, for in every other Dusun village 
where I have been they had no lack of stories. However, 
if you won't tell me a story, suppose I tell you one instead." 
So I told them a short tale that I had heard a few 
days before at Kampong Piasau. When I had finished, 
one of the old men said, with a chuckle at having been 
found out: "Why, Tuan, how long have you been in 
the country that you know so much about the Dusuns' 
affairs?" That night I got as many stories as I could 
take down. 

Legends 173 

Very often a village has one or two folk-tales peculiar to 
itself, the incidents related being said to have happened to 
some man of the village in ancient times. Of this kind are 
the stories of "Why the Dusuns of Tempassuk do not eat 
snakes," peculiar to the village of that name, "The Orang- 
Utan of Kiau," and "The Man of Nabah." Roughly 
speaking, I think that Dusun folk-tales may be said to fall 
into six or seven classes: of these the local story, those 
concerning religion or customs, those which account for 
various natural phenomena, those which relate to the 
doings of people of old times and the marvellous adven- 
tures which befell them, those which tell how the 
Dusuns became acquainted with useful inventions and 
articles of diet, and those of a humorous character are 
the most important. 

The classes, however, often shade off into one another, 
particularly in the case of the first four. To the Dusun 
his folk-tales are in most cases much more than mere 
stories told to while away the time, for in them are 
enshrined his rehgious beliefs, his ideas with regard to 
the things of nature which affect him, his explanation 
of the origin of various customs, his astronomy and his 

Concerning folk-tales dealing with native religion I have 
already said something in a previous chapter, and if any of 
my readers should wish to read a large number of the 
stories which I collected they will find them in The Journal 
of the Royal Anthropological Institute, vol. xliii. (19 13). The 
usual time for telling folk-stories is during harvest, both in 
the fields and after work is finished, this being the season 
for rejoicing, toddy-drinking and feasting. I am enabled by 
the courtesy of the Royal Anthropological Institute to 
reprint below a tale of each type. The stories were told in 
Malay, the lingua franca of Borneo, and were taken down 
straight from the lips of their narrators. 

174 Legends 

The Orang-Utan (Orang-Utang) 

A legend of Ktau on the slopes of Kinabalu, told by Tompo 

Long ago some men went into the jungle carrying blow- 
pipes, and when they got near to the River Tenokop they 
heard someone singing verses among the trees. Then they 
looked and saw an Orang-Utan (Kagyii) sitting on the 
ground singing, and this was his song : " First of all I 
lived at the River Makadau, but I went to the River 
Serinsin; from there I went to the River Wariu; from 
the Wariu to the Penataran; from the Penataran to the 
Kilambun ; from the Kilambun to the Obang, and from 
the Obang to the Tenokop. I cannot go up into the trees 
again for I am old and must die upon the ground. I can no 
longer get fresh young leaves to eat from the trees ; I have 
to eat young grass." 

Then the men who had been listening said to one 
another: "This Kagyu is clever at verses, let us shoot him 
with our blow-pipes." One man was about to shoot when 
the Kagyu saw him and said : " Do not shoot me, but make 
me a hut and let me live here till I die. When you have 
made my hut, bring your sisters here and I will teach them 
magic, for I am skilled in it." So the men made him a hut 
and they brought their sisters to him, and the Kagyu in- 
structed them how each sickness has its own magical 
ceremony. He taught them the spells for snake-bite and 
fever, and for the bite of the centipede. 

Then the men went home, about three days' journey, 
to get rice for the Kagyu^ but when they came back with 
the rice the Kagyu was dead; and from that day when- 
ever there was sickness in Kampong Kiau they called 
the women who had been instructed by the Kagyu^ and 
those who were ill recovered, and if a man was wounded 
and was treated by the women no blood came from the 

Legends 175 

A Legend of the Beginning of the World 

Told by the headman of Timpalangt a Tuaran Dusun 

At first there was a great stone in the middle of the sea. 
At that time there was no earth, only water. The rock was 
large, and it opened its mouth, and out of it came a man 
and a woman. The man and the woman looked around, and 
there was only water. The woman said to the man : " How 
can we walk, for there is no land ? " They descended from 
the rock and tried to walk on the surface of the water, and 
found that they could. They returned to the rock and sat 
down to think; for a long time they stopped there; then 
again they walked upon the water, and at length they 
arrived at the house of Bisagit (the spirit of small-pox), for 
Bisagit had made land, though it was very far away. 

Now the man and his wife were Kedharingan and 

Munsumundok (chief gods of the Dusuns). They spoke to 

Bisagit and asked for some of his earth, and he gave it 

to them. So going home they pounded up the rock and 

mixed Bisagit's earth . with it, and it became land. Then 

Kenharingan made the Dusuns and Munsumundok made 

the sky. Afterwards Kenharingan and Munsumundok made 

the sun, as it was not good for men to walk about without 

light. Then Munsumundok said : " There is no light at 

night, let us make the moon," and they made the moon and 

the seven stars, the blatek (spring-trap) and the kukurian or 

constellations. The seven stars are the Pleiades ; the blatek 

or blantek is, I believe, the constellation known as the Hyades. 

Kenharingan and Munsumundok had one son and one 

daughter. Now Kenharingan's people wept because there 

was no food. So Kenharingan and Munsumundok killed 

their girl child and cut it up, and from the different portions 

of its body grew all things good to eat : its head gave rise 

to the coco-nut, and you can see the marks of its eyes and 

mouth on the coco-nut till this day ; from its arm-bones 

arose sugar-cane ; its fingers became bananas and its blood 

176 Legends 

rice. All the animals also arose from pieces of the 

When Kenharingan had made everything, he said : " Who 
is able to cast off his skin ? If anyone can do so, he shall 
not die." The snake alone heard and said : " I can." And 
for this reason till the present day the snake does not die 
unless killed by man. (The Dusuns did not hear or they 
would also have thrown off their skins and there would have 
been no death.) 

Kenharingan washed the Dusuns in the river, placing 
them in a basket ; one man, however, fell out of the basket 
and floating away down the river stopped near the coast. 
This man gave rise to the Bajaus, who still live near the sea 
and are skilful at using boats. When Kenharingan had 
washed the Dusuns in the river he performed a religious 
ceremony over them in his house; but one man left the 
house before Kenharingan had done so and went off into 
the jungle to search for something; and when he came back 
he could not enter the house again, for he had become a 
monkey. This man is the father of the monkeys. 

The Origin of a Dusun Custom 

Told by Sirinan of Piasau, Tempassuk District 

Once there was a woman who had newly given birth to 
a child. The house she lived in was a large one, ten doors 
long. One day the women of the other rooms were dyeing 
cloth with tahum (a kind of indigo), and the men of the 
house were away hunting, some in one place, some in 
another. About midday it began to rain, and with the 
rain came much thunder and lightning. While it was 
still thundering, the woman who had newly given birth 
performed a ceremony in the house, and while she was 
performing it she saw a woman chasing a boy outside 
on the ground below, and their appearance was as if they 
had been quarrelling, for the boy was weeping and the 

Legends 177 

woman kept snatching up sticks to throw at him. But 
she did not manage to hit him, and she kept calling out: 
" Stop, stop, for the people here do not know the custom." 

So the woman who was in the house stopped her per- 
formance and going to the door called out : " Why are you 
treating your boy like that ? " The other woman stopped, 
and said : " I am treating him like this because you people 
do not know the custom." "What sort of custom?" said 
the first woman, and while she still spoke the thunder 
stopped, and the boy also stopped running away. The 
woman outside answered her: "In this you do not know 
the custom, and that is why my son is fighting me. It is 
because you women are dyeing cloth when your husbands 
have gone to hunt, and it would be good if they, your 
husbands, were all together in one place in the jungle. See 
when they come back, some will bring white, some red and 
some yellow ; these women are dyeing their cloth black,'*'* 

Then the women of the house said : " We did not know 
of any custom like this. What is it?" The woman 
answered them: "This is the custom: when you wish to 
dye cloth (black or blue) you must not take hold of 
anything white, red or yellow." Said the women of the 
house: "Instruct us in this custom." And the woman 
outside said : " You must keep this custom, and it would 
be good if men did not get hit by things thrown by my 
son [_i,e. thunderbolts]. If the things he throws about only 
hit a coco-nut-tree it does not matter, but if they hit a man, 
there will be trouble for that man. Another time your 
husbands must not be seeking for things to eat, red, white 
or yellow, when you are dyeing your cloth black. And 
do not bring these colours into the house while you are 
still dyeing cloth." Then the woman and the boy vanished. 

After a time came the men who had been hunting ; four 
had got a deer (red blood), and the other six had brought 
tumeric (tumeric is yellow), and the young white shoots of 
the beluon-tree. When the women saw the men coming. 

178 Legends 

they called out: "Whatever you have brought from the 
jungle, do not bring it into the house this night." So the 
men slept outside with the goods they had brought from 
the jungle. On the morrow they brought their deer and 
other things into the house, and the women of the house 
told them how the woman had chased the boy. And to 
the present day women may not touch red, yellow or white 
when they are dyeing cloth. 

["I think that the boy who was being chased by his 
mother was the Spirit of Thunder." — Sirinan.] 

Note, — The colours mentioned would appear to be 
symbolical of a thunderstorm: 

Black or dark blue . . The clouds 

White The rain 

Yellow and red . . , The lightning 

The Making of the Bluntong (Rainbow) 

Told by Sirinan {lonv-country Dusuti) of Piasau, Tempassuk District 

Long ago the rainbow was a path for men. Those who 
lived up-country used the rainbow as a bridge when they 
wished to go down-country in search of wives. For though 
there were women up-country, the up-country men were 
very fond of the down-country women. Because of the 
men's desire for wives from the coast they made the 
rainbow as a bridge, and you can see the floor and 
hand-rail of the bridge in the rainbow to the present 
day. The men when they had first made the rainbow 
walked on it to the women's houses. When the men 
had fed, the women followed the men along the rainbow 
to their homes. When they arrived up-country the 
marriages were celebrated with a feast, and the men 
became drunk. Then came a headman from another 
village and said to them : *' You men are very clever ; how 
long have I lived in this country, but never yet have I 
seen anything like your rainbow. Do you intend to leave 

Legends 179 

it there or not ? " The men repUed : " When we want to 
go down-country with our wives we will put it in place, 
but when we do not want it we will take it away," and 
thus they do to the present day. What the men were 
I do not know, but they were more than ordinary men. 
It is an old-time tale of our people. Perhaps it is true, for 
just now, as you saw, the rainbow vanished. 


Told by Serundaiy Orang Tua of KalisaSy Tempassuk District 

There is a tree named kendilong which has a sap white as 
water, and this sap is very irritating to the skin. The 
kendilong is a home for bees, and if men wish to take the 
honey they cut steps in the tree up to the bees' nest. 

Once there was a poor man, and every night he dreamed 
that if he found a kendilong-Xxee he would become rich. So 
he set out to look for one, and when it was near night he 
found a kendilong, and slept the night there. Now there 
were bees' nests in the tree. The next morning he went 
home, and brought two companions back with him. Two 
men climbed the tree, and one stopped below by the trunk. 
They took the bees' nests, but did not know to whom to sell 
them. Now there was a Bajau who had come up the river 
in a boat, for at this time there were no Bajaus living in the 
country. This man met the Dusun who had got the bees' 
nests, and going home with him he saw four sacks of nests 
and bought them for a little cloth, saying that he did not 
know what they were. He said that he would try and 
sell the nests, and that he wished to become the Dusun's 
brother. So they swore brotherhood, and sacrificed a hen, 
and the Bajau promised to give the Dusun his share if there 
were any profits from the nests, at the same time telling him 
to collect any more that he might find. Then the Bajau 
sailed away, and the Dusun searched hard for bees' nests. 

i8o Legends 

Now the Bajau had promised to return in three months' 
time, and, when he came, he brought a tongkang (a kind of 
small junk) full of goods, while he found the Dusun's house 
full of bees' nests. So the Dusun got much goods from the 
Bajau, and became rich, and that is how the Dusun got to 
know about beeswax. 

The Legend of Nonok Kurgung 

Told by Orang Tua Letigok, a low-country Dusun of Bengkahaky 
Tempassuk District 

Long ago, when there were no people in this country of 
the Tempassuk, there were two people at Nonok Kurgung, 
a man and his wife. The woman became with child and 
gave birth to seven children at one time, both male and 
female; four were females and three were males. When 
these children were grown up they wished for husbands and 
wives, and asked their father and mother how they were to 
get them, as there were no other people in the country. 
Their father and mother said to them : " Wait, and if your 
dreams are good you will get your wish." 

When the woman was asleep Kenharingan came to her in 
her dreams and said : " I have come because I have pity on 
you that you cannot get wives or husbands for your children. 
Your children must marry one another, as that was the reason 
I gave you seven children at one birth." In the morning 
the woman asked her husband if he had had any dreams, 
and he said : " No." Then he asked his wife if she had 
dreamed, and she said that Kenharingan had come to her 
and told her that their children must marry one another. So 
they consulted together and ordered their children to marry, 
and after they had been married for some time all the women 
gave birth to twenty children each at a time, and these 
children in their turn intermarried. 

Now at this time the people had no plantations, and they 
got their rice by cutting down bamboo stems, the rice com- 
ing out from the inside of the stem. There was a river with 

Legends i 8 i 

many nonok-trees near the village, and the children used to 
go and bathe there and He under the trees. Every day they 
went to bathe there, and every day a child w^as lost. This 
went on until twenty children had been lost, and the fathers 
decided to try and find out what was happening to them. 
They searched the river and they searched the banks, but 
could find nothing, and there were no crocodiles in the river. 
After they had hunted in vain for three days they went 
home, and when they met together they decided they would 
run away from the place. So they collected all their goods 
to start. One night all was ready, and the next morning 
they started out, taking with them their wives and children, 
their baggage and bamboos to give them padi. After they 
had journeyed for a day one man and his family stopped 
behind to make a house, a second man stopped on the second 
day, and so on till there was nobody left to journey on. 
These families which stopped formed villages, and from 
their bamboos came all sorts of food-plants, vegetables, rice 
and caladium, and these they planted in their gardens. This 
is how this country became peopled with Dusuns to as far 
away as Marudu. 

The Origin of the Blatek, the Ror and the Puru-puru 
(Three Constellations) 

Told by Sirinan, a tow-country Dusun of PiasaUy Tempassuk District 

Long ago men planted only tapioca, caladium and beans ; 
at that time there was no rice. When they had planted 
them they fenced them round, and after a time they cleared 
away the weeds in the crop. At weeding-time they found 
that wild pigs had been getting in and had eaten all their 
caladium, "What use is it," said they, "our planting 
crops? The wild pigs only eat them." In the evening 
the men went home to their houses, and when it was night 
they went to sleep. 

Now one man dreamed, and in his dream an old man 
came to him, and he said to the old man : " All my caladium 

1 82 Legends 

and tapioca and beans which I planted have been eaten by 
wild pigs." Said the old man : " You must make a blatek 
[Malay, blantek~\ [spring-trap] at the edge of your fence 
where the pigs enter." Then the man awoke, for it was 
near morning, and thinking over the dream, he resolved to 
make a blatek near the edge of his garden. So he ate, and 
when he had finished he went out to his clearing and started 
making a blatek. When he had finished it he set it and 
returned home, and on the fourth day after he had set the 
trap he went back to his plantation to look if it had caught 
anything. When he got there he found a wild pig in the 
trap, but it had become decayed and was not fit to eat. He 
poked it with the end of his walking-stick, and found that 
its head was separate from the body, and that the under jaw 
and teeth had fallen away from the head. 

The man went home, and at night he went to sleep and 
dreamed that the same old man came to him and said : "What 
about your blatek ? Did it catch a wild pig ? " " Yes," said 
the man, " I caught a pig, but it had become rotten and I 
was not able to eat it." "Did you take a walking-stick 
with you ? " said the old man. " And did you prod the wild 
pig's head with the stick?" "I did," said he. "Very 
well," said the old man, " do not plant caladium and beans 
this year; plant rice instead." "But where shall I get rice 
from ? " said he, " for there is no rice in this village." 
" Well, search for it in other villages," said the old man. 
^* If you only get two or three measures that will be enough. 
The marks where you thrust your stick into the pig's head 
shall be called ihe puru-puru. The lower jaw shall have its 
name of the ror^ and the blatek also shall keep its name, and 
all these shall become stars." 

Then said the man : " I want instruction from you, for if 
I get rice how am I to plant it ? " Said the old man ; " You 
must watch for the blatek^ the ror and the puru-puru to 
appear in the sky, and when, shortly after dark, the puru- 
puru appears about a quarter way up in the sky, that is the 

Legends 183 

time to plant rice. The puru-puru will come out first, the 
ror behind it and the blatek last of all." When the man 
woke up he found that the old man's words had come true, 
and that the puru-puru^ the blatek and the ror had become 
stars. To the present day they follow this custom, and the 
rice is planted according to the position of these stars as seen 
shortly after dark (about seven o'clock). 

The Lazy Woman and her "Bayong" 

A Dusun story J told by the Orang Tua of Kampong Tarafitidan, 
Tempassuk District 

Long ago there was a very lazy woman ; she would not 
work, and as for bathing, she was so lazy that she only 
washed herself once in ten days. One day she went to the 
bathing-place and a nipa palm called to her from across the 
river. The palm-tree kept on calling her, but she was too 
lazy to answer or to cross the river to see what it wanted. 
At last the nipa said : " Why are you so lazy that you will 
not cross the river? There is a boat there on your side of 
the water and you can paddle across and take my shoot." 
So the woman went very slowly and got the boat, and 
going very lazily across the river in it she took the shoot 
from the palm. Then said the nipa : " I called you because 
you are so lazy. You must take this shoot and dry it a 
little in the sun, and make a bayong from it." (A bayong is 
a large basket for carrying, made from the nipa shoot; it 
has no cover.) 

Now the lazy woman nearly wept when she heard that 
she was to make a bayong-^ however, she took the sprout 
home and made a bayong from it. When this was finished 
it spoke to the woman, and said : " You must take me along 
the path where people are going to market and put me down 
near the side of the road where everybody passes ; then you 
can go home." So the woman took the bayong and left it 
near the road where people were going to market. Many 

1 84 Legends 

people passed there, but no one noticed the bayong until a 
rich man came along and, seeing it, said : " I will take this 
bayong to market, as it will do to hold anything I buy- 
there, and if the owner is at market I can give it back 
to him." 

Presently the rich man came to the market, and he asked 
everyone there if they had lost a bayong^ but nobody acknow- 
ledged it. *' Well, then," said the rich man, " it is my gain, 
and I will put what I have bought into it and take it home ; 
but if anyone claims it they can come to my house and get 
it." So the rich man put all his goods — sireh^ lime, cakes, 
fish, rice and bananas — into the bayong until it was full, and 
while the man was talking to some of his friends the bayong 
started oiF on its own accord to go home to the lazy woman's 
house. When it was still some little way off from the house 
it began calling to the lazy woman : " Come here, come here 
and help me, for I can't stand the weight ! " Then the 
woman went to the bayong^ though she was nearly weeping 
at having to go and fetch it home, but when she saw 
that it was full of all sorts of good things she said: 
*^This is a splendid bayong^ but perhaps it will want 
some payment. At any rate, if it is always like this, I 
shall get an easy living by just leaving the bayong on the 
road to market." 

So on market days the woman always placed the bayong 
near the side of the path, and it always came home full ; but 
it never met any of the men who had found it before until 
it had cheated six men. Now at the seventh market the 
men who had filled the bayong on the six previous occasions, 
and had thus lost their property, happened to be going to 
market all together, and when they saw the bayong left near 
the road, they all recognised it as the one which had cheated 
them. So the six of them collected buffalo dung and filled 
the bayong to the top — *' For," said they, '* this bayong is a 
proper rascal ! " Then the bayong^ being full, started oiT 
straight for home and did not go to the market. When the 

Legends 185 

lazy woman saw it coining she rushed to help it home, but 
when she found it was full of buffalo dung she began to cry 
— *' For," said she, " if the bayong does not bring me food 
surely 1 shall die." As for the bayong^ it would never bring 
food from the market again. 



THOUGH the Dusuns may be said to be head- 
hunters, this cult never seems to have attained the 
same popularity with them as among the Kenyah- 
Kayans and Sea Dyaks of Sarawak. In the Tempassuk the 
villages of the plains do not appear to have indulged in head- 
hunting since they have been in contact with Europeans. 
The lowlanders of Tuaran, on the other hand, have at the 
present day some fairly large collections of skulls in their 
long houses, and how these were obtained I will explain 
later. In the hill country of both districts head-hunting 
has only ceased since the Chartered Company has acquired a 
firm hold, and one case has even occurred within the last few 
years, the principals in the affair being executed at Jesselton 
shortly after I went to the Tempassuk. 

The reasons for head-hunting among Bornean tribes in 
general seem to have been threefold : firstly, the practice 
was not without religious significance; secondly, it was con- 
sidered a sport and the heads regarded as trophies ; and 
thirdly, among some tribes no youth was considered fit to 
rank as a man until he had obtained a head, the women 
taunting those who had been unsuccessful as cowards. 
With regard to Dusun head-hunting in particular, it certainly 
had a great deal of religious significance — this side of the 
matter I deal with in another chapter — but it could scarcely 
be considered a sporting pursuit, the methods employed in 
obtaining heads being the very reverse of fair fighting. 

The usual procedure was for some of the " braves " to set 
out from home and proceed to hang round another village 
with which they were at feud, taking care to hide them- 


Warfare, Head -hunting &^ Weapons 187 

selves well in the jungle, preferably near to some of the 
villagers' padi-fields. When an unarmed straggler or two, 
very likely women or children, came out to work in the 
fields, they made a sortie, killed them, cut off their heads 
and made off as fast as their legs would carry them back 
to their own village, where they shivered in fright at the 
thought of a counter-attack. Anyone who had been present 
at the head-taking, even if he had, as someone once said, 
" only danced around and yelled ' Hurrah ! ' " considered 
himself entitled to decorate his body with the particular 
tattoo pattern which denoted a man who had taken a head. 
The head of a woman or child was considered of just as 
much worth as that of a full-grown man. 

I think that a little story with regard to some skulls 
illustrates very well the Dusun's sharp powers of observance 
with regard to matters in which he has an interest. On 
one trip I made up-country I took with me old Lengok, 
the Orang Tua or headman of Bengkahak ; and during our 
journey we paid a visit to Tambatuan. Here, when walk- 
ing round the village, I noticed a basket containing a couple 
of old human skulls hung up against the side of a small hut 
which was used as a store-house for padi. 

Turning to Lengok, I said in jest: "Well, Lengok, whom 
do you think those heads belonged to, Bajaus or Dusuns?" 
He went up to the basket, took out the skulls, and after 
turning them over for a minute in his hands replied : " These 
are Dusuns' heads, Tuan." " Oh, don't talk nonsense," 
said L "How on earth can you tell what tribe they belong 
to?" "Well, you see, Tuan," said Lengok, " the Bajaus 
have got round heads, while the heads of Dusuns are a good 
deal longer." The old fellow had thus found out for 
himself that length and breadth of the skull were important 
characters in determining race, a conclusion which was only 
arrived at by anthropologists after long and serious study. 
His diagnosis was undoubtedly correct, as the Dusuns are 
dolichocephalic (long-headed) Indonesians, while the Bajaus 

1 88 Warfare, Head -hunting &^ Weapons 

are a Proto-Malayan and brachy cephalic (short-headed) 

The village of Kaung still has a head-house, but I was 
unfortunately never able to visit it, as on the couple of 
occasions when I was near the village the Tempassuk was 
so badly in flood as to be impassable, and I was unable to 
cross from the resting-hut which lies close to the bridle-path 
on the opposite bank of the stream. I, however, visited the 
village in 191 5. There were then three head-houses, each 
containing two or more skulls ; one of the huts had, however, 
fallen down. Mention is made by Burbidge of a "little 
flat-topped head-house at Kiau containing about fifty skulls," 
but though it may still exist, I have never seen it. 

According to tales told by the natives, regular battles 
between village and village did occasionally occur in former 
days, but they were admitted to have done so very rarely. 
Except for his sneaking penchant for head-hunting, the 
Dusun is a man of peace, if not a coward; and, being a 
keen agriculturist, he dislikes war extremely, as it interferes 
with his chief pursuit. In head-hunting regular scores of 
heads were kept between villages which were at feud. For 
instance, if Kiau had got eight heads from Kaung, and 
Kaung only four heads from Kiau, it was " up to Kaung " to 
get at least an equal number, and, if possible, one or two 
more. If both villages wished to close the account, this 
could be done by the village which had taken most heads 
paying for the balance at a rate agreed upon by the elders 
of both parties. 

This method of settling old feuds was a good deal used 
when the Tempassuk was brought under proper control by 
the Chartered Company, after the defeat and death of Mat 
Saleh, and when the subsequent operations against his 
lieutenants Kamunta and Langkap had been brought to a 
successful conclusion. It was in the final battle against Mat 
Saleh at Tambunan that the Tuaran Dusuns are said to 
have got most of the heads which can now be seen in their 

Warfare, Head-hunting &^ Weapons 189 

villages. At the time that the Government was preparing 
for the expedition which ran him to earth, the Tuaran 
Dusuns, who were terrified at the mere name of Mat Saleh, 
were very much against their will pressed into service 
as carriers. 

After the battle, the Tuaran men, who by this time felt 
quite courageous, ran about with drawn parangs, cutting 
off the heads of the enemy who had been shot by the Sikh 
military police — ^whence these skulls. No doubt on their 
return to the bosom of their families the "warriors" re- 
presented themselves as being the conquerors of the much- 
dreaded Bajau leader. I heard a story that one of the men 
cut the top off a skull that he took, picked out the dried 
brains, and made it into a drinking-cup, but as he died very 
shortly afterwards it was thought that he had been killed 
by the dead man's spirit for his impiety, a skull taken in 
head-hunting being a thing which will bring good luck if 
propitiated and sacrificed to at regular intervals, but a very 
unlucky possession if not treated with due respect. 

Dusun weapons of offence are largely procured from 
other tribes; indeed probably the majority of those found in 
the extreme north of Borneo have not been locally made, 
many of them being of Sulu type. The cutting weapons 
found among the Dusuns are the pida (or barong), a very 
broad-bladed knife which tapers to a sharp point and is 
capable of inflicting a most dreadful wound — I had a Dyak 
lance-corporal who had once had his face laid open from the 
bridge of the nose to the angle of the jaw with one of these 
weapons; the pedang, a sword with either a straight or 
cutlass form of blade and a cross-shaped handle; and the 
parang Hang, a sword with a blade narrow towards its handle 
and broad towards the point, with one side of the blade con- 
cave — that on the left when the sword is held back upwards 
— and the other convex. The peculiar form makes it 
necessary to give a sort of scooping cut in using it, which 
renders the parang Hang a very awkward sort of weapon in 

I go Warfare, Head-hunting &^ Weapons 

the hands of a tyro. Probably most of the pedangs found 
in North Borneo were made in Brunei. The weapon has a 
wide distribution and is largely used in the Malay Peninsula. 

The type of hilt is said — I should think quite correctly — 
to have been derived from the swords used by the old 
Crusaders. Not only is the hilt in the shape of a cross, but 
the upper limb of the cross is converted into a small round 
chalice, which is, of course, entirely meaningless to the native. 
No doubt the pedang was introduced into the East Indies by 
Arab traders. The parang Hang itself is not so common in 
North Borneo as a variant of it which is often called the 
gayang: this is of similar shape, but the blade has not got 
convex and concave sides. The handles of both the gayang 
and the parang Hang are generally made from the base and 
brow-tine of a stag's antler, and are highly carved, but wood 
is occasionally used as a substitute. 

The gayang is manufactured in one or two villages in the 
Tempassuk, the best specimens coming from Kiau. In this 
case I know that the smiths learnt how to make the weapon 
from a Dyak who was for a long time resident in the 
district. With regard to the much rougher specimens 
turned out in other villages, I am not quite certain if they 
are truly native products or not, but I rather suspect that 
they are copied from weapons seen in the hands of wander- 
ing Dyaks, though they differ from the Dyak type in several 
small particulars. 

Apart from spears, the only stabbing weapon in use is 
the large sword-like dagger known as sundang or serundang 
to the Malays of the Peninsula, but locally called a kris, 
which can also be used for cutting. This, again, is, I believe, 
really a Sulu weapon : it may have either a waved or straight 
blade, and the hilt, which is made of wood, ivory, elephant 
or sperm-whale tooth is always cut to represent a perched 
bird. The true Malayan kris with a hilt in the shape of 
a squatting human figure is rarely seen in the Tempassuk, 
and has never been made locally. 

Warfare, Head-hunting &^ Weapons igi 

Spears are manufactured in many Dusun villages, and are 
used both for fighting and hunting. An up-country Dusun, 
when going out to his rice-field, which is often some way 
from his house, almost invariably carries his spear with him, 
partly in case he may meet a pig on the way or in the crop, 
and partly, I think, because he has not yet forgotten the 
days when attacks used to be made by the gangs of head- 
hunters or Bajau ruffians from the coast. Spears are also 
useful as walking-sticks, and they are always used in this 
way by natives going on long journeys. 

The Dusun shield is circular and is made either of wood 
or rattan cane. The wooden shield is made in one piece 
and may be either of hard or soft wood ; the rattan shield 
is formed from a long piece of cane wound in a flat spiral 
form, the coils of the spiral being woven together with fine 
basket-work of the same material. Every shield has two 
hoops at the back, into which the left arm as far as the 
elbow is slipped when the shield is required for use. 

One very curious specimen which I bought in the 
Tempassuk was a round hat made from a piece of light 
palm- wood; on the under side of this, and some distance 
from the brim, was a raised ring of wood which was for 
the purpose of fitting the hat to its wearer's head. This 
wooden rim was bored with two holes on either side, which 
communicated with one another. A separate string was 
passed through each couple, with the ends knotted together. 
When the hat was being worn, two short loops thus hung 
down on each side of the man's face, the idea being that, 
should the owner of the hat meet with any trouble in the 
course of his wanderings, he could snatch it off, run his left 
fore-arm through the loops and immediately be provided 
with an eflfective buckler. 

The only other weapon which requires much notice is the 

^blow-pipe. This instrument is not now used to any very 

great extent in either the Tuaran or Tempassuk districts, 

and is only, as a rule, to be found in up-country villages. 

192 Warfare, Head-hunting &^ Weapons 

though probably it was much commoner in former days. 
So much has been written about the Bornean blow-pipe and 
the methods by which it is manufactured that I do not think 
it worth while to go into the matter again here, as the 
Dusun blow-pipe, except in a few unimportant details, is 
exactly similar to that used by the Kenyah-Kayans and other 
tribes. It consists of a cylindrical tube of hard wood, while 
the muzzle end is fitted with a small wooden sight above 
and with a flat spear-blade attachment below, which is said 
to be of use in guiding the dart on leaving the muzzle, but 
can if necessity arises be also used as a weapon. 

The short darts, of which the points are covered with 
ipoh poison, have a conical head made of pith, the upper or 
larger end of which closely fits the bore of the weapon. In 
discharging the dart from the blow-pipe the weapon is not 
held like a gun as might be expected, but is gripped with 
both hands close to the mouth-piece, the knuckles being 

The dart-quiver is a bamboo box made from a large inter- 
node, with one of the adjoining nodes left untouched to 
form its bottom. It is usually covered with a cap made 
from the same or a similar bamboo, which consists of an 
unbroken node, with a few inches of an adjoining internode 
to form the sides. A slight shaving down of the outside of 
the quiver at the top allows for the fitting of the cap. The 
blow-pipe is at present used for hunting monkeys, though 
in former days it was largely used as a weapon of offence. 

Mention may be made here of the working-knife, which 
is carried by every native. This is worn on the left side of 
the body, being attached by two cords around the waist 
which are fastened by a loop and toggle. Though the 
parang is not primarily intended for a weapon, it is very 
often put to this use, and is generally kept in a state of 
razor-like sharpness. 

Before bringing this chapter to an end I must make 
mention of Dusun war coats and helmets. The former are 

A DusuN Man of Tambatuan in War Dress. 

He wears a thick coat of closely-woven fibre, which is friniied at the bottom and trimmed with 
cowrie shells. The round shield is made of wood, and the sword, suspended Irom a cowrie- 
covered bandolier, has a tail of human hair inserted in the pommel. 

A Head-House at Kaung " Ulu," Tempassuk District. 

The basket which the man has removed from the little house, or hut, contains several human 

fihulls and also some of the Orang-utan. When a man was wounded in a fight, but his head not 

secured, the Kaung people added an ape's skull to the basket as a substitute for the man's. 

Warfare, Head-hunting ^ Weapons 193 

very thick and heavy and act as a protection against sword- 
cuts. They are fringed at their lower edges and sometimes 
are decorated with cowrie shells. The material of which 
they are made is lamba fibre. Of the helmets, I have only 
seen two specimens; one of these, which was ornamented 
with cowrie shells, had a brim, the other not. They were 
rough, but, I should think, fairly serviceable in native 



THE Bajaus resemble the Dusuns in speaking a 
language belonging to the Malayo-Polynesian 
group, but are racially nearly allied to the Malays 
proper, while the Dusuns, if they are related at all, are only 
distantly so. Scientifically speaking, the Bajaus are Proto- 
Malays, but this practically only means that they are an 
early evolved Malay people. They have, I believe, the 
rounded skull of the Malay, and they also conform to 
type in other respects, though their features are more 
roughly cut than those of the Peninsular or Sumatran 
Malay. These remarks apply equally well to the Illanuns, 
except that they are, perhaps, a better-looking people. 
These two peoples dwell, as has been already remarked, on 
the sea-board and lower river reaches. In religion they are 
lax Mohammedans, but their customs are slightly different ; 
yet, owing to their being of the same faith and of very 
similar habits, they may be conveniently described together. 
In personal appearance, dress and character they are almost 
identical, while it is generally impossible for a European to 
distinguish between members of the two tribes. A native, 
of course, can do so, but then he would listen to see which 
of them were talking Illanun and which Bajau; besides this, 
he would probably be able to make a fairly good guess 
by taking into account small diiferences of facial type or 
of dress — such as the tying of the head-cloth — which a 
European would not notice. 

The Bajau man is rather a dark-skinned person of low 
stature. His cheek-bones are fairly high and his eyes small, 


Races of Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 195 

hard and bright. St John says in speaking of the tribe: 
"No one can accuse the Bajaus of being a handsome race ; 
they have generally pinched-up, small faces, low foreheads, 
but bright eyes. ... I never saw a good-looking face 
among them, judging even by a Malay standard"; and this 
description is, on the whole, not unfair. 

In character the Bajau is a lazy spendthrift, a liar, a cheat, 
a thief, a wheedler, a blusterer and a swaggerer. Some 
Europeans have the same idea about the Bajaus that the 
Western American is said to entertain with regard to Red 
Indians — " the only good Injuns is dead 'uns"; but still the 
Bajaus have some redeeming features, which are not without 
their appeal to me. Firstly, the Bajau is above all things a 
sportsman : organise a deer-drive, a pony- or a buffalo-race, 
and the usually lazy Bajau becomes a different person. I 
do not think that the Bajau's love of hunting is by any 
means to be solely ascribed to the desire for meat, or that 
of racing to the wish to win a wager. No doubt both 
these matters add to the zest with which he pursues the 
sport, but sport he loves for sport's sake. Excitement of 
any kind is the Bajau's delight, and excitement he must 
have. Piracy, raiding and burning Chinese shops, which is 
the Bajau's idea of the highest kind of pleasure, gambling, 
buffalo- or pony-racing, cattle-thieving, cock-fighting or 
hunting — all these are, or used to be, indulged in with the 
greatest ardour. 

Like the Malay, the Bajau is incapable of properly per- 
forming work which requires long and continuous effort; 
but if he can be interested in a task he will work at it well 
so long as the interest lasts. The Bajaus, having been 
undisciplined free-booters and rovers for many generations, 
did not take kindly to the rule of the Chartered Company, 
under which they were forced to give up their amusements 
of this kind. The consequence was that both they and 
the Illanuns, having found a leader in the so-called rebel. 
Mat Saleh, proceeded to resist the threatened restraint of 

196 Races of Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 

the Company's rule to the best of their ability; but the 
Mat Saleh " rebellion " was the only serious trouble which 
the Chartered Company have had with the natives from 
the time that they first began to tighten their hold on the 

Piracy and pillage having been now suppressed, the Bajau 
has to make shift to content himself with such amusements 
as remain to him. BuiFalo-thieving is still a popular amuse- 
ment, while gambling, cock-fighting, and horse- and buffalo- 
racing receive their fair share of attention. To these 
relaxations many Bajaus have now added the sometimes 
profitable pursuit of trying to extract advances from estate 
managers pretending that they are going to recruit labourers 
and give them advances. With money so obtained a Bajau 
generally retires to a gambling shop, and has a splendid 
time until the day of reckoning arrives. 

The character of the Illanuns is somewhat similar to that 
of the Bajaus, "only more so." The Bajau is a truculent 
swaggerer ; the Illanun can outdo him at his own game. 
The Bajau is a braggart, a liar, a spendthrift and a gambler; 
the Illanun is a bigger one. The lllanun's chief idea of 
pleasure is to swagger about in fine clothes and do no work, 
unless an occasional piracy or inland raid can be so described. 

In the days of old the Illanun pirates must at any rate 
have been fine seamen, for their name was feared through- 
out the Archipelago, and even around the coasts of the 
Malay Peninsula. They still cling to the memory of their 
former prowess, and show their fancied superiority in their 
independent bearing and truculent demeanour. The best 
that can be said for them is that, though their deeds are 
evil, they are gentlemanly rascals. Their worst actions are 
often partly redeemed by some humorous touch or plausible 
excuse, which makes one want to laugh even when extremely 

The Illanuns are a rather better-looking people than the 
Bajaus, though they certainly cannot be called handsome. 

Races of Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts 1 97 

Mongolian characteristics are, I think, more developed among 
the chiefs than among the common people. The aristocratic 
type of face is rather long and thin, with fairly high cheek- 
bones, light, yellowish skin, a somewhat delicate nose, and 
long almond eyes set at a considerable angle from the hori- 
zontal. St John's description of the Illanun Raja Muda 
would answer well for one of the chiefs of that tribe with 
whom I was acquainted. He says: "The Raja Muda, the 
Illanun chief, came on board and was very civil. He is a 
handsome-looking, manly fellow and extremely polite. From 
what I have heard and seen he is a type of his countrymen 
— a different race from the Bajau: a slight figure, more 
regular features than the Malays, a quiet, observant eye; 
he wore a delicate moustache." This description of an 
Illanun noble is good, but I am not sure that it would 
answer for the Illanuns in general. 

As I have remarked in an earlier chapter, the Illanuns 
are comparatively recent arrivals from Mindanao in the 
Philippines. The Bajaus, though older settlers along the 
north-west coast, appear to be also invaders, and according 
to Dusun legendry first came in trading prahus from the 
direction of Kudat. Some of the Bajaus claim that their 
ancestors came originally from Johore. 

Both tribes are nominally Mohammedan, but are not 
fanatical ; indeed they are very lax in the observance of 
matters of ritual. Owing to the two tribes being of the 
same religion, a considerable amount of inter-marriage takes 
place, and possibly the fate of the Illanuns, who are com- 
paratively few in numbers, will be absorption into the pre- 
ponderating mass of the Bajaus. The Illanun villages in the 
Tempassuk district, which only number about seven all told, 
are situated some near Fort Alfred, not far from the mouth 
of the Tempassuk river, and some around and beyond 
Pindasan, formerly the great stronghold of Illanun pirates. 

The women of both tribes are allowed a degree of liberty 
almost equal to that of their Dusun sisters. They do not 

I g8 Races of Tuaran &P Tempassuk Districts 

veil themselves except at festivals, not even wearing a scarf 
over the head as does the Malay v^^oman — the scarf being 
used to veil the face whenever the wearer has a fit of 
modesty. Bajau and Illanun women frequent all the low- 
land markets and prove themselves excellent saleswomen 
of fish, fruit, native-made cloth, betel nut, sireh, lime, etc. 
They even join in dances with the men, and respectable 
women will play musical instruments before mixed company. 

The ladies are usually anything but beautiful, and are 
rendered even less attractive than necessary by their unlovely 
methods of dressing their hair and the clumsy fashion of 
their dress. In addition, a large quid of sireb stuffed into 
one cheek or partly protruding from the mouth, with trickles 
of blood-red saliva running down the chin, scarcely adds to 
the charms of even the most attractive face. 

The character of the Bajau and Illanun women is, how- 
ever, I believe, a good deal higher than that of their men- 
kind. Scandals are comparatively rare, though considerable 
liberty, if not licence, is allowed to widows and divorced 
women. Prostitution is unknown. 

Both Bajau and Illanun women are expert cloth weavers, 
and those of the latter tribe often support their menkind in 
idleness by selling the products of their looms. 

Unfortunately nearly all the money on which either a 
Bajau or an Illanun man manages to lay his hands is lost in 
his favourite pursuit of gambling. Probably in the old days, 
when native gambled with native, the effect was not so bad 
as it is at present. For though losses and gains no doubt 
had an unsettling effect, the money or valuables at any rate 
remained in the tribe. Since the Chartered Company's rule 
has been established, however, the monopolies for liquor- 
selling, pawnbroking and gambling have been put up for 
auction to the highest bidder. The farmer, invariably a 
Chinaman, has shops in every place of the least importance, 
and into them he put his agents or sub-lessees. In each 
shop there are two doors opening in the frontage, one 

Races of Tuaran &^ Tempassuk Districts igg 

giving entrance to the gambling-room, the other to the shop 
proper, where pledges are taken, liquor sold and, in out- 
stations, a considerable business done in general goods. 

At Kotabelud the gambling shop used to be crowded all 
day long by a crowd of lazy Bajaus apparently engaged in 
ridding themselves of all the property in their possession in 
an attempt to make money without exertion. When a man 
had been " cleaned out " of all his ready money he would 
return next day with some family heirloom, a dagger with 
an ivory hilt, a fine old brass betel-box or a silver ornament, 
and pledge his property in the pawnshop, so conveniently 
under the same roof with the gambling establishment. With 
the money thus obtained he would again tempt fortune, 
probably with no better luck than he had experienced on 
the day before. Even then his appetite for gambling would 
remain unsatisfied, and frequently Bajaus gamble till they 
have stripped themselves and their houses of every scrap of 
valuable property. 

The very best of the pledged articles comparatively seldom 
find their way to the shelf kept for unredeemed pledges, as 
the Bajau or Illanun owner manages to keep paying interest 
on his most treasured heirlooms, but they are frequently left 
in pawn for long periods, and if redeemed find their way 
back to the pawnshop almost at once. To do the pawnshop- 
keepers justice, they are usually fairly good to the natives, 
and do not declare their goods forfeit even after the legal 
period has expired without payment of interest, being willing 
to allow old customers time to scrape together the necessary 
money to renew the ticket. 

The chief harm done to the coastal people by the licensed 
gambling shops is not so much that the Bajaus and Illanuns 
are encouraged to gamble — they would do that anyhow — 
but that all their wealth is passing into the hands of another 
people — the Chinese. The Government of the Federated 
Malay States has recently closed all the gambling shops in 
the states of the Federation, but some few years ago, when 

200 Races of Tuaran ^ Tempassuk Districts 

they were allowed, it very properly forbade Malays to stake 
any money in them. 

A Chartered Company which has to try and earn dividends 
for its shareholders and controls a poor country cannot, 
however, afford to be quite so nice in these matters as the 
Government of a rich country like the Federated Malay 
States, though I should scarcely say that this was an argu- 
ment in favour of the continued existence of chartered 
companies in general. What the fate of the Bajaus will 
be in the future it is difficult to say, but though they are 
economically an almost useless people, I am inclined to think 
that they will continue to exist, if only because they are 
such rascals. In most cases it seems to be the simple and 
inoffensive tribes and races who are crushed out in the 
struggle for existence, while nobody can accuse the Bajaus 
of being either one or the other. The Illanuns will, as I 
have remarked above, probably become absorbed by the 
Bajaus, owing to their small numbers, common religion and 
similarity of customs and methods of living. Even at the 
present day there are many natives who have a Bajau father 
and an Illanun mother, or vice versa. 

Drying Padi in a Dusun Village. 

The round trays, ordinarily used for winnowing, contain tiie grain, which is being dried. The 
old woman sitting on the boulder has a stick beside her with which to drive away the fowls. 



THE Bajau man is but a poor agriculturist. There 
is nothing intrinsically wrong with his methods, 
but to him agriculture seems to be a comparatively 
modern development, to which he has not taken very kindly. 
It is seldom that enough rice is planted to last the family till 
the next harvest, and through his indifference and laziness 
he is often late in ploughing the land and setting out the 
young seedlings. Since all the Bajau villages are in the 
lowland districts, they chiefly plant wet padi, but a little dry 
padi is also grown on land which it is difficult to irrigate. 
Their methods are similar to those already described for the 
Dusuns, but less ingenuity is usually shown in irrigating 
the soil. Each group of fields is surrounded by a strong 
bamboo or wooden fence in order to keep out wandering 
buffaloes and cattle. 

Near harvest-time, when flocks of small birds collect to 
feed on the ripening grain, scarers similar to those used by 
the Dusuns are erected, and also windmills on tripods of tall 
bamboos, the bamboo " sails " of which make a creaking and 
a humming noise as they revolve. From the back of the 
sails, at the centre, there usually projects a long tail, made, 
I believe, from a leaf of the coco-nut palm, the pinnce of the 
leaf hanging downwards. The tail is supported by a cord 
attached at one end to the top of the windmill frame and at 
the other to the leaf at a distance of about three-quarters of 
its length, so that the inner portion is slightly raised from 
the horizon talj while the tip falls downwards. The vibration 
caused by the sails makes the tail quiver and jerk, and adds 
greatly to the effectiveness of the windmill as a bird-scarer. 


202 Agriculture, Hunting &^ Fishing 

When the land is lying fallow, bufFaloes are turned loose 
in the fields and help to manure the ground to a certain 

A considerable amount of sugar-cane is planted, and both 
Illanuns and Bajaus make rough sugar-mills which are 
worked by a buifalo, which walks round and round in a 
circle, yoked under a movable horizontal beam which oper- 
ates two vertical rollers. These interlock at the top and 
base with rudely cut worm-gear. The lengths of cane are 
thrust between the rollers and the expressed juice runs 
down and percolates, through a strainer of sheet bamboo, 
into a receptacle below. The juice is taken from this and 
cooked in large iron pans until it attains the consistency of 
thick molasses, when it is ready for use. 

Of late years some Bajaus in the neighbourhood of 
Kotabelud have taken to growing a considerable acreage 
of ground-nuts, having, I believe, learnt how to do this from 
a few Javanese settlers who first started planting them. 
The crop appears to pay well, and there seems to be a 
possibility that more land may be utilised for this purpose 
in the future. Indian corn is planted to a small extent, as 
are also certain vegetables, chiefly French beans, cucumbers 
and brinjals. Coco-nut palms, which bear well, and fruit 
trees, such as belunoes, mangoes, memplums, pawpaws, limes, 
langsats and bananas, grow round most villages, but receive 
little attention. 

Large herds of cattle and buffaloes roam the plains and 
marshlands between Kotabelud and Pindasan, but no sort of 
attempt is made at mating or breeding suitable animals, and 
the herds are to all intents and purposes wild, except that 
every animal has an owner. Young animals are ridden 
down on ponies, caught with nooses and marked by nicking 
the ear, or ears, each man having his own particular sign. 
Cattle-catching affords an opportunity for a very fine display 
of horsemanship, and shows the Bajaus at their best, for 
they are, above everything, fine riders. 

Agriculture, Hunting &^ Fishing 203 

When an animal is required for riding, one is selected 
from the herd, and a professional cattle-catcher is given the 
task of catching it and breaking it in. If the animal is sold, 
the breaker-in, according to custom, receives half the value 
it fetches. Young bulls which are to be trained for riding 
are tamed by being fastened up in the village with their 
necks in a wooden pillory, consisting essentially of a couple 
of posts, which allows fairly free movement of the head 
vertically, but very little sideways. The same kind of 
wooden saddle is used by the Bajaus as by the Dusuns. 
A switch of three or four small rattans bound together at 
the handle-end is used by both Dusun and Bajau riders. 

Epidemics of cattle-sickness, possibly rinderpest, occur 
occasionally, but I have never known one to attain very 
serious dimensions, though I have had to isolate infected 
villages once or twice. A few goats are kept in some 
villages and quite large animals can be purchased for a couple 
of dollars or so. 

In the Bajau villages of the coast and of the river estuaries 
fishing supplants padi-planting as the chief industry, and an 
excellent supply of fish of all kinds is to be had for the 
taking. The usual methods of catching sea-fish are by 
small stake-traps (be/at), lines, seine-nets, casting-nets and 

Be/at are light stake-traps usually set close to the shore 
in the shallow water of estuaries, many of them being left 
dry at low tide. They consist of wallings of bamboo (?) 
laths strung together and attached to short poles driven into 
the mud. 

The casting-net is very similar to that used in the Fen 
counties of England for catching live-baits for pike-fishing. 
It consists of a bell-shaped net weighted round the edge 
with a chain of lead or tin and having a cord attached in 
the centre which ends in a loop. In using it the fisherman 
slips this loop over his left hand, and draping his right 
shoulder and arm with a part of the net gathers up the rest 

204 Agriculture, Hunting &^ Fishing 

of it in orderly folds, partly into his left hand, partly into his 

In casting the arms are held almost horizontally, and bent 
so that both hands are close together, the left being slightly 
lower than the right ; both arms are then swung quickly to 
the left in a horizontal direction, the body following them 
with its weight thrown on the left foot. The part of the 
net held in the hands is released and the arms are dropped 
slightly. The net flies out, and falls on the water in a 
perfect circle, but still remains attached to the fisherman's 
left hand by the cord from its centre. The chain round the 
edge sinks quickly, enclosing the fish within the net, and 
if these are only of small size the net can be withdrawn 
slowly from the water with the catch in it, for the fish are 
prevented from escaping by the drawing together of the 
heavily weighted net edges. 

Large skates are often speared with a barbed fish-spear 
consisting of an iron head, shafted with bamboo or wood, 
the fish being visible at the bottom as the fisherman's light 
dug-out canoe glides over the clear water of the shallows. 

One kind of small fish much resembling the European 
white-bait, which is called in Malay ikan bilis^ is a favourite 
delicacy among the Dusuns, and up-country natives come in 
numbers to the coastal markets to purchase these fish from 
the Bajaus at the season when they visit the shores. King- 
crabs {lAmulus) are frequently on sale in the markets, and 
are sought after for their eggs. 

A good variety of fresh and dried fish, molluscs — chiefly 
kinds of clams and cockles — crabs and prawns are always on 
sale, while turtles' eggs are not uncommonly seen. The 
last-named are dug out of the sandy beaches where the 
turtles lay them. " Giant clams " (Tridacna) of fair size are 
found among the coral reefs in clear water and are eaten by 
the Bajaus, but as I do not remember having seen them 
brought to market, probably they are not considered 
sufficiently good eating to be saleable. 

Agriculture, Hunting &^ Fishing 205 

Shells producing mother-of-pearl are obtained in small 
quantities, and fetch a very fair price when sold to the local 
Chinese traders, but among them there are usually very few 
specimens of the pearl oyster {Meleagrina mar gar it if er a) ^ 
the majority of the shells being those of species of Trochus 
{Trochus niloticus) and Senectus (Senectus argyrostomd). These 
shells are collected more by the Orang Bernadan (Tawi 
Tawi Islanders), who visit the coasts, than by the local 
Bajaus. Quite large pearls are often found in the shells of 
Tridacna^ and I brought one back from Borneo which is 
almost as large as a sparrow's e^'^ ; but they possess little 
beauty, being merely white and shiny, so that they are, I 
believe, almost worthless, except as curiosities. It is of 
those pearls that the wonderful stories of breeding small 
ones are told by the peoples of the Malayan region, it being 
often asserted that if one of them is placed in a small box 
together with some grains of rice, after a time the mother- 
of-pearl will be found to have produced young, while the 
rice grains will have been broken at the ends as if they had 
been nibbled by mice. 

The Bajau regards agricultural pursuits and the trade 
of fisherman — especially the former — as necessary evils to 
be endured with stoicism, but it only requires the magic 
word hunting to be whispered to rouse him to a state of 
wild enthusiasm. Whatever may be his sins of omission 
and commission, and they are many, he is certainly a sports- 
man, and takes part enthusiastically in hunting, horse-racing 
and other sports. It is this quality which, in spite of his 
otherwise more or less undesirable character, finds him 
a warm corner in the hearts of many Englishmen, and makes 
them cherish a sneaking regard for him of which they are 
half ashamed. 

To see a Bajau mounted on his sturdy little pony, and 
armed with a throwing-spear, galloping over the most break- 
neck country in pursuit of a muntjac, locally sometimes 
called the Bornean roe-deer, is a sight not easily forgotten. 

2o6 Agriculture, Hunting &P Fishing 

This style of hunting is fairly frequently practised on and 
around the grassy and scrubby foot-hills near Kotabelud. 
Though not numerous in such open country, an odd deer or 
two of this species can generally be found in the folds of 
the hills wherever there is scrubby cover, and especially 
where a small stream of water is shut in by clumps of trees 
and bushes. 

Probably at a remote date all these foot-hills were forest- 
covered, but felling for clearings and continual fires, both 
intentional and accidental, have now, in the lower reaches of 
the Tempassuk, driven back the forests from the foot-hills, 
while virgin jungle is only found on the mountains which 
tower above them. The lofty forest trees which once 
occupied this area are now replaced by the very coarse and 
persistent grass known as lalang, bushes of the so-called 
Straits rhododendron [Polyanthema melastomum)^ and other 
shrubs — indeed, except near springs and water-courses, it 
seems doiibtful whether the trees could ever assert them- 
selves again even should fires be prevented. 

Some of the destruction of timber must, I imagine, have 
been fairly recent, as several old men of the Dusun village 
of Bengkahak, which lies in the foot-hill region between 
Kotabelud and Pindasan, were agreed that the forests had 
retreated considerably since their youth. I imagine the 
constant grass-fires which the Dusuns light in the dry 
season are partly responsible for this, as no doubt they 
sometimes reach and attack the edges of the forest zone. 
Clearings for hill-padi planting had, and have, also a great 
deal to do with the denudation of the forests, but much less 
in the foot-hills bordering the plains of the coastal districts 
than up the valley of the Tempassuk, though here, when a 
clearing is abandoned, a secondary forest growth, chiefly of 
soft-wooded trees, rapidly springs up again. The lalang- 
grass, as remarked before, is periodically fired, chiefly, I 
believe, with the view of aflbrding fresh pasturage to the 
herds of cattle, which obtain more nutriment from the fresh 

Agriculture, Hunting &^ Fishing 207 

young grass-blades than they could from the old and wiry 
leaves ; but the fires also serve to clear the country of the 
tall grass which makes travelling uncomfortable off the 
beaten tracks, and to destroy the refuges of poisonous 
snakes, especially cobras. 

But to return to the Bajaus. A hunter is almost invariably 
followed by one or more mangy and starved curs, his hunting 
dogs, and in spite of neglect and ill treatment these are 
often marvellously clever at driving out the game. Guns 
being rare among the Bajaus, they are exceedingly keen on 
joining a European, as hunting on horse or on foot, armed 
only with a throwing-spear, though an exciting sport, does 
not invariably result in a kill. 

One common method of hunting is to surround a couple 
of sides of a projecting and roughly triangular strip of 
jungle with hunters on horse and foot, and to put in a line 
of beaters, accompanied by dogs, at the base of the strip 
where it joins the main body of the forest. The beaters 
work down towards the apex and drive the game before 
them, timely notice of the starting of a deer being afforded 
by their curs, which give tongue freely. According to 
native custom, the actual slayer of the animal is entitled 
to certain tit-bits: his claim being satisfied, the rest of 
the hunters set to work in a mob, slashing away the skin 
and meat with their knives as if for dear life, and in a 
marvellously short time little remains but the larger bones, 
from which the meat has been cut away. For once in a 
way the wretched curs eat their fill on the scraps, and 
then the hunters make their way homeward laden with the 

Nominally a Mohammedan should not touch the meat 
unless a prayer is said and the animal's, or bird's, throat cut 
while it is still alive ; but a few muscular twitches would be 
considered a sign of life, and I have heard of natives saying 
that when shooting it is only necessary to say " Bis7niUah " to 
sanctify the flesh for their use, thus avoiding the necessity 

2o8 Agriculture, Hunting &^ Fishing 

for throwing away game which has died immediately on 
receiving the charge. 

When a cow is killed for the feast the Bajaus can some- 
times scarcely restrain their impatience until the wretched 
animal has gasped out its last breath, and I have seen lumps 
of flesh hacked from the bones and thrown into a heap 
which still twitched and quivered for some seconds after 
they had been severed from the carcass. 

Snares and traps very similar to those made by the 
Dusuns are also used among the Bajaus for trapping game. 
Guns are now almost unknown in their hands, as since the 
Mat Saleh and Kamunta troubles the British North Borneo 
Government has absolutely prevented any natives, with the 
exception of a few favoured chiefs, from obtaining weapons 
of precision, while they were deprived of those they possessed 
when the rising was put down and the country brought 
properly under control. 



BEING by nature a somewhat truculent and swaggering 
scoundrel, the Bajau or Illanun is by way of feeling 
that his clothes should give some indication of his 
sentiments towards the rest of the world. The young men 
especially like to add to the boldness of their appearance by 
wearing brightly coloured head-cloths, stiffened with rice- 
starch, and so tied that two or three peaks stand out 
abruptly from the head. Gaily coloured trousers of narrow- 
striped native cloth are also to be seen, which are baggy 
around the waist and as far as the knee, but very close- 
fitting in the calf, while long enough partly to cover the 
instep. This kind of garment, which is without buttons, is, 
I believe, of a type much worn in the Sulu Islands. It is 
secured under the belt by folding over a portion of the 
baggy top. 

A bright-hued scarf, often made of two long strips of 
differently coloured cloths, is thrown negligently over one 
shoulder, and is used as a handkerchief, or for carrying 
small articles. The full dress of young Bajau men is the 
tightly fitting short jacket with embroidered facings and 
two rows of silver buttons, the native-woven head-cloth and 
japutangan (around the waist), the short and baggy blue or 
black trousers, and the loose cloth worn over one shoulder. 

The elder men do not sport the bright colours in favour 
among the young bloods. Their usual dress is a pair of 
loose Chinese-pattern trousers, often of black or dark blue 
cloth, or of white calico, and a rather short coat of the same 
material, which fits somewhat tightly in the arms and around 
the chest, but is cut loosely below, 
o 209 

2IO Dress, Domestic Affairs &f Government 

European singlets have of recent years come very much 
into fashion among the natives, and are often worn without 
a coat. The head-cloths of the older men are also usually 
darker in colour than those of bachelors. Cheap foreign- 
made belts are now in very general use, while the cloth 
which is frequently worn over the shoulder, or a hand- 
kerchief (saputangan) of native manufacture, wound round 
the waist above the belt, contains the brass betel-nut box 
which a native man invariably carries. 

Personal jewellery worn by men consists of silver rings, 
often of striking, though somewhat crude, design, set with 
cornelians, rock crystals, or glass, and sometimes with what 
I believe are natural crystals of iron pyrites. Coco-nut pearls 
and those from the giant clam (Tridacnd) are also mounted 
in rings, as well as bezoar stones, reputed to have the 
property of absorbing the poison from snake-bites and 
scorpion-stings. Hanging silver tobacco-boxes, shaped like 
a watch, and possibly really derived from the old fat Dutch 
watches, are rare, but are still sometimes worn, being attached 
to the belt by a chain. Shell-bracelets, the manufacture of 
which I have described elsewhere, are affected by both men 
and women, and bracelets of silver also adorn the arms of 
both sexes. 

I learned, on the authority of a Bajau named Si Ungin or 
Sungin, that in the days of yore long hair was commonly 
worn by Bajau men, at any rate until they married, but it 
is now exceptional to see a man with long hair in the 
Tempassuk or Tuaran districts, and I can only recollect once 
having done so. This was on the Sulaman Inlet, the man 
in question being one of my boat's crew. 

Bajau men are seldom handsome, and the same can usually 
be said of their women, but what looks the women do 
possess are spoiled by their fashions in clothes and hair- 
dressing. Except, perhaps, on feast days, when clothes of 
bright colours are worn, it would not be far wrong to say 
that Bajau and Illanun women always look untidy. This 

Dress, Domestic Affairs &^ Government 211 

impression is given by the loose, shapeless and generally 
sombre - coloured clothes which they wear, and the un- 
beautiful way they have of drawing their hair tightly back 
from the front of their head, tying it in a sort of knot 
behind, and leaving a ragged-looking tail depending from 
the knotted or coiled mass. 

The everyday garments of the Bajau women of the 
Tempassuk are a sort of bottomless sack of some sad- 
coloured cloth reaching from under the arms — it is rolled 
up and tucked in tightly over the breasts — almost to the 
feet, and a pair of loose under-trousers, gathered in just 
above the ankles. The bottoms of these can be seen when 
the sarong is held up, or rolled upwards for walking. In the 
Tuaran district the sack is worn without the trousers. 

The freedom granted to the women is remarkable consider- 
ing that the Bajaus and Illanuns are Mohammedans, though 
this is probably partly due to the unorthodox behaviour 
of their menkind, and their lack of knowledge of Moham- 
medan custom. The women are even more untrammelled 
in their liberty than their sisters of the Malay Peninsula. 
They seldom, except on high days and holidays, wear any 
cloth which can be used to veil the face, and respectable 
women dance with men before a crowd of onlookers. I 
believe, however, in spite of the freedom which they enjoy, 
their morals compare very favourably with those of other 
Mohammedan women, who are more closely guarded. 

Native-woven cloths are seldom worn by the women. 
The articles made in native fabrics are men's head-cloths, 
handkerchiefs, cloth for coats and trousers, together with 
garments called kain ampik and kain moga, which are of 
thick material and in the form of the Malay sarong, though 
they are used, not as the Malay garment generally is, as a 
covering for the body between the waist and the ankles 
by day or night, but as wrappers for the whole body either 
at night or during chilly weather. 

Gold ornaments are seldom worn by Bajau or Ulanun 

212 Dress, Domestic Affairs &^ Government 

women, since neither tribe is by any means rich, and wives 
are kept in a state of poverty by the laziness and gambling 
habits of the husbands. Round ear-studs, usually of silver, 
more rarely of gold, are worn by unmarried girls, and these 
are often remarkably pretty examples of goldsmiths' work. 
Many of the old silver ornaments, sireb and tobacco boxes 
and other articles, are of very fine design, and are, I believe, 
the work of Illanun silversmiths, who at one time established 
quite a reputation for themselves. Some of the old articles, 
which can even now be occasionally picked up by a collector, 
were, however, almost certainly made in Brunei. 

Nowadays the Chinese silversmith is finding his way into 
the out-stations and is beginning, or in many cases has 
already managed, to shoulder out the native craftsman, who 
is unable to compete with a specialist. Some silver-work still 
finds its way from Brunei to the Tempassuk by the hands 
of Malay traders, but the specimens are usually trumpery in 
the extreme, the workmanship being rough, the patterns 
degenerate and the silver of paper-like thinness. The 
modern silver articles which I have seen brought for sale 
by Brunei Malays were small, hollow silver buttons in the 
form of a flower bud, and the somewhat coronet-like head 
ornaments worn by brides. 

In addition to the head-cloths which I have mentioned 
above, Bajau and Illanun men, and sometimes women, when 
on a journey or working in the fields, wear large sun-hats, 
which they obtain from the Dusuns of the interior. I fancy 
that one type of hat used by the Mengkabong Bajaus is 
made by themselves. To these they frequently attach a 
chin-cord of twisted yellow and red wool, the material for 
which is obtained from the Chinese shops. 

Perhaps the working-knife should be mentioned as part 
of the native outfit, since, when he leaves his house, every 
native, Bajau, Illanun or Dusun, almost invariably girds 
himself with one of these useful weapons. The knife, in its 
wooden sheath, is worn on the left side of the body, being 

Dress, Domestic Affairs &^ Government 213 

attached to waist-cords fastened in front by means of a 
toggle, a Chinese cash or a Sarawak coin generally fulfilling 
this purpose, or more rarely a disc cut from a Trochus shell. 
The uses to which the parang is put are various indeed, 
among them being clearing away weeds and undergrowth, 
cutting firewood, opening coco-nuts, cutting up deer or 
cattle for food purposes, and preparing materials for house- 
building, while, if necessary, it becomes a weapon of defence 
or offence, 

Bajau villages may be built on land, over the water of 
some estuary or salt-water inlet, or on the sea-shore, either 
above or below high-tide mark. All the Illanun villages 
that I have seen have been built on land. In any case the 
dwellings of both peoples, like those of the Dusuns, are 
raised on posts. Bajau or Illanun houses are never of the 
communal type. Much of the household refuse is thrown 
down through a hole in the floor, this being quite a sanitary 
method of disposing of it if the house is over the water or 
on the shore below high-tide mark, but by no means so on 

In spite, or perhaps because, of the absence of pigs, 
those scavengers of Dusun villages, Mohammedan (Bajau or 
Illanun) villages are usually a good deal cleaner than those 
of the pagans. Nor do I think, though it breeds disease- 
carrying flies, is the accumulated refuse directly responsible 
for sickness among the villagers, since there is always a 
current of air under the house. 

A Bajau village is generally situated in a coco-nut grove, 
where the trees belong to various owners. Scattered about, 
too, are other fruit trees, such as mangoes and belunoes. 
The rice-fields will probably be just outside the grove of 
trees which shelters the village, and here, after the harvest, 
the buffaloes roam about or wallow in the deep mud-filled 
excavations that they make for themselves. 

The houses of the village are walled and roofed with 
palm-leaf attaps, and before some of the larger dwellings is 

214 Dress, Domestic Affairs &^ Government 

a platform — reached by a ladder from the ground — on which 
clothes are dried and various household work is performed. 
Male visitors to the house ride up to the steps, dismount 
and, before entering, tie their buffaloes, bulls or ponies to 
one of the posts supporting the platform. A Bajau house 
usually consists of a single room with perhaps a cook-house 
built out behind. A passage or gangway leads from the 
door, which is near one corner, to the opposite end of the 
building, the rest of the room being slightly raised above the 
level of this to form a sort of sitting and sleeping dais. 

Here is stored the family property, boxes containing 
clothes, brassware (trays, sireb boxes, gongs, etc.), and here 
also are placed the sleeping-mats and pillows, covered in 
with mosquito nets suspended from some of the cross-beams. 
In the houses of well-to-do men the top of the mosquito 
curtains are sometimes ornamented with patchwork hangings. 
The blending of colours in these is often quite pleasing, not 
at all like the horrible patchwork articles so often seen at 

Brightly coloured dish-covers made of strips of pandanus- 
leaf are placed over plates of cakes or other food set aside 
on the dais, and perhaps some old brass cannons will be seen 
tied up or supported against one wall of the house, cannon 
in the old days having passed as legal tender, so that the 
possession of a number of them indicated that their owner 
was a man of wealth. A kris, a pida or some other native 
weapon will very likely be hanging up against a post of the 
house, and some of the women will be occupied in weaving 
on their rather primitive looms the brightly coloured waist- 
or head-cloths, for the manufacture of which the Bajaus 
and Illanuns of the Tempassuk are held in such high repute. 

The houses of the poorer peasants are often small and 
wretched in the extreme, especially in the villages built over 
inlets of the sea, such as the Sulaman or Mengkabong. The 
type of house I have been so far describing is that of a native 
chief, or of a man in easy circumstances ; such a dwelling 

Dress, Domestic Affairs &^ Government 215 

sometimes has a small upper room close under the thatch. 
Here the girls of the family sleep, and during the day-time 
occupy themselves in weaving cloths. 

The flooring of Bajau houses is made of sheet-bamboo, 
that of the outside platform — if there is one — of slats of 
nibong palm wood ; the thatch and walls are of palm-leaves, 
those of the nipa or the sago palm being generally used. 
Two or three small windows illuminate the building, and are 
closed at night by wooden flaps or shutters hinged with 
rattan bindings to the upper part of the window frame. 

Villages of any importance possess a mosque ; though, ex- 
cept for the fact that the walling does not reach the thatch, 
but is only carried half-way up, this does not usually differ 
much in external appearance from an ordinary house. 

The Bajau or Illanun villages are not so full of animal life 
as those of the Dusuns, particularly those of the up-country 
people, where grazing ground is limited, and buflaloes and 
cattle make their way into the villages and even under the 
houses. The Bajau's cattle, unless they are trained animals, 
will be found among the herds which roam around the bases 
of the foot-hills or on the grass plains of the Krah. The 
absence of pigs, which I have remarked above, also detracts 
from the liveliness of Mohammedan villages, and numerous 
pariah dogs exist — I was going to say are kept — and on moon- 
light nights give themselves up to the congenial employment 
of baying the moon. No more mournful sound can be im- 
agined than this chorus of curs all yowling together upon 
the same note, and natives believe that when the dogs thus 
"break forth into song" it presages the death of some 
inhabitant of the village. 

Some fowls are reared by most villagers, but they are not 
usually so numerous as in Dusun villages. A few goats crop 
the grass around the houses, and these, with some half- 
starved cats with short tails bent round almost at right angles 
a few inches from the tip — a variety peculiar to the Malay 
region — complete the animal population. 

2i6 Dress, Domestic Affairs ^ Government 

In the villages built over the waters of estuaries or inlets 
of the sea the small dug-out canoe or gobang replaces the 
buffalo or pony as a means of conveyance from place to 
place, and the visitor to a house ties up his canoe to a post 
just as a man on land does his buffalo. Owing to the posi- 
tion of their settlements, the Bajaus of these villages, as is 
only natural, look to the sea and to the brackish water of the 
inlets to provide them with a living rather than to the land, 
though many of them have a few rice-fields. 

Their chief occupations are, therefore, fishing, salt-making 
and the cutting of w/)>^-palm leaves for use as attaps to 
thatch and wall their houses. Where fishing is undertaken 
on a large scale, boats of fair size {fakerangan or perahu 
lembu) and seine nets are used, and the greater part of the 
catch is preserved by drying it in the sun. A good deal of 
this dried fish finds its way to market, where it is sold or 
bartered to the Dusuns. Where less wholesale methods 
are employed, the fish are either consumed at home or sold 
fresh to the Chinese shopkeepers or to other natives. 

Though making pretty pictures in photographs, especially 
in the case of Mengkabong, where the houses are not 
arranged in a regular line, these villages built over the 
water prove on close inspection to be assemblages of most 
crazy and dilapidated hovels. Still, here and there may be 
seen a larger and better-built house, denoting that it is the 
dwelling of some more prosperous native. 

The Mohammedan natives have a great deal scantier menu 
than the pagans, since their religion forbids them to eat pork ; 
and such game as snakes, rats, squirrels, monitor-lizards, 
monkeys and other Dusun delicacies are also tabu to them. 
On the occasion of a marriage or other ceremony, or at a 
religious festival, a buffalo or an ox may be killed, otherwise 
the natives seldom eat meat, unless they can hunt down a 
deer or a muntjac. Excellent fish is obtained on the sea- 
coast, and the river fish are also quite eatable, so the Bajaus 
and Illanuns probably do not feel the lack of meat ; but they 

Dress, Domestic Affairs &^ Government 217 

are very keen about it if they can get it for nothing, either 
by hunting or by attending some feast. Rice forms the 
staple article of diet, eked out with a little fish, some salt, 
chillies, and possibly a few spices. 

Cookery is most primitive, but the women know how to 
make a few kinds of cakes. Coco-nut oil, generally made 
by boiling the kernels in water and collecting the oil which 
rises to the surface, is used for frying sweets, in native 
medicines, and also for dressing the hair. Cane-sugar, or 
rather molasses, is used for sweetening in native cookery ; 
this is obtained by pressing the fresh canes between two 
upright rollers in a mill worked by a buffalo and boiling 
down the resulting liquid. Coarse salt is also made 
locally, and I have described the processes of manufacture 

Nowadays life in a Bajau or Illanun village is very 
humdrum compared with what it must have been formerly, 
for since the young bloods are no longer at liberty to go 
on plundering expeditions, which provided them both with 
excitement and a livelihood, they are reduced by necessity 
to the unpleasant task of having to do a little work in order 
to live. The monotony of their lives, however, is somewhat 
brightened by visits to the gambling farm, an occasional 
hunting or racing party, cock-fighting, or perhaps a small 
buifalo-stealing expedition. Their natural dislike for work 
makes them but indifferent agriculturists, but they are 
much better fishermen, partly because they are essentially 
a maritime people, partly, I believe, because fishing, 
with its uncertainty, contains some elements of sport and 

A fair number of Bajaus make a little money by trans- 
porting on buffaloes goods for the Chinese shopkeepers, 
the main traflBc of this kind being to and from Usakan Bay, 
the fortnightly calling-place of the local steamer. Many 
young men from the Tempassuk, attracted by the prospects 
of handling ready money and change of scene, go to work 

2 1 8 Dress, Domestic Affairs &^ Government 

on rubber estates at Beaufort or elsewhere, and often do 
not return for several years. 

Crime in the Mohammedan villages is not serious, except 
in regard to buifalo-stealing. Most of the cases coming to 
court are trivial cases of cheating and petty stealing. While 
I was at Kotabelud there were some rather ingenious thefts 
committed from the Chinese shops, by means of a long and 
slender rattan cane to which a few thorns were left adhering 
near one end. An opium-sodden Chinaman would be lying 
fast asleep at night in his shop on a bamboo platform behind 
the counter, with a number of native-made head-cloths, vary- 
ing in price from two to twenty dollars, hanging on a line 
above his head. A thief who has observed the position of 
the cloths during the day-time crawls under the shops at 
night — they are slightly raised from the ground on posts — 
and making a small hole in the bamboo floor, or utilising 
one already there, pulls down the cloths from above the 
Chinaman's head, and, having landed his catch safely, 
quietly takes his departure, leaving his " fishing rod " behind 
him as a souvenir of his visit. 

Another method is sometimes used in stealing rice. The 
thief, having observed that a sack of rice is stored in a 
certain house, makes his way under the dwelling at night, 
breaks away a little of the flooring — not a difficult task — 
immediately under the sack of rice, and, cutting a hole in 
the bottom of the sack, lets the rice off" into a receptacle 
held below — his canoe if the house he is stealing from is built 
over the river. 

Offences against the person, assaults, woundings and 
murders, are rare, though I once had to deal with a case in 
which a man was stabbed through the floor of the house, 
his assailant temporarily escaping. He was, however, event- 
ually discovered by having all the weapon sheaths in the 
village opened and examined for blood-stains. On doing 
this, it was found that the inside of a kris-sheath belonging 
to a young Bajau was caked with dried blood — the weapon 

Dress, Domestic Affairs ^ Government 219 

itself had been cleaned. When the prisoner saw that 
there was strong circumstantial evidence against him he 
at once confessed that he was guilty. The reasons he 
gave for revenging himself on his victim were peculiar, 
but were of such a nature that I can scarcely set them 
down here. 

The Bajaus and Illanuns of the Tempassuk at the present 
day still acknowledge a number of chieftains, the highest 
in rank being the Dato Takopan (Bajau) and the Dato 
Temengong (a chief of importance among the Bajaus). 
On the Mengkabong, and on some of the rivers along the 
coast in the direction of Brunei, Pangerans (chiefs of the 
royal blood of the Sultans of Brunei) are acknowledged as 
overlords. In the old days petty chieftains were accustomed 
to adopt very high-sounding titles, and to style themselves 
rajas, but since the establishment of the Chartered Company's 
rule the power of the majority of the native chiefs has 
declined considerably, since the Company now appoints 
"Government chiefs," who receive a monthly salary, and 
are selected from the most trustworthy and energetic of the 
native headmen. Thus, although a candidate of high rank 
would be selected in preference to a commoner, all other 
things being equal, there are now among the Government 
chiefs men who have risen to the position owing to merit 
rather than birth. 

The head Government chief in the Tempassuk at present 
is Haji Orang Kaya Kaya Mohamed Arsat (or Arshad), 
a Banjarese, for long a Government clerk, who by many 
years of faithful service, and by his conduct at the time 
of the Mat Saleh rebellion and afterwards, won himself 
the position which he now holds. He has very wisely 
strengthened his authority over the Mohammedans, who are 
always ready to respect a haji or Mecca pilgrim, by marrying 
the sister of the principal Illanun chief. Futhermore, his 
influence with the pagans is almost as strong as it is with 
the Mohammedans, and his knowledge of native customs, 

2 20 Dress, Domestic Affairs &^ Government 

and of native ways, makes his assistance invaluable to a 
young Civil servant fresh from home. 

Another class of people who have a good deal of influence 
with the Mohammedan tribes are Sarips, men partly of 
Arab, partly of native extraction, who claim descent from 
the Prophet of Islam. They are on account of this claim 
naturally looked upon with great respect, and are considered 
entitled to wear yellow, which is the royal colour. 

In the old days, as far as I can ascertain, the majority of 
the chiefs exercised but little authority over their lawless 
followers, and any man who had gained a reputation by his 
bravery, or by bluster and cajolery, was sure to attract to 
himself a following of reckless freebooters. 

The Illanun head chief traces his origin from the Illanun 
magnates of Mindanao and is a descendant of Sa Tabok, 
the pirate, concerning whom I shall say something in a later 
chapter. Illanun chiefs have a peculiar custom of taking 
(or receiving) more high-sounding titles as they advance in 
years, thus a Dato may eventually end up with the title of 

Some of the Bajau titles, such, for instance, as that of 
Dato Temengong, seem to have been bestowed by the Brunei 
royalty on petty chiefs, or men of some capacity who made 
themselves useful to the Brunei Court, or to Brunei officers 
who visited the country to collect duit buis (tribute) — exacted 
by threats from some of the Bajau villages. The duit buis, 
a sort of poll-tax, was given in kind, and in addition, when 
the boat with the Sultan of Brunei's representative on board 
cast anchor, the village had to contribute two pikul of brass, 
and the same amount when anchor was weighed again. 
Mengkabong, Inanam, Menggatal, Tuaran and the Sulaman 
villages acknowledged the Brunei potentate as their lord 
(chiefly, I expect, when they were overawed by a display 
of force). According to Haji Arsat, who is my informant 
with regard to these matters, one pikul of cannon (brass) was 
at that time reckoned as being worth fifty dollars (Mexican). 



THE Bajau's staple food is rice, as is the case with 
the majority of the peoples inhabiting the tropical 
and some of the sub-tropical and temperate regions 
of Asia. Rice by itself would, however, be but a poor 
diet, and so it is supplemented with vegetables, fish or flesh, 
while in the tropics it is further helped out with seasonings 
of spices, red peppers and other condiments. The Bajaus, 
being dwellers on the sea-coasts and the lower reaches of 
the rivers, are not unnaturally great consumers of fish ; and 
they also supply the inland tribes from their superfluity, fish 
being one of the chief articles they barter with the hill 
people. Various vegetables are eaten, the commonest being 
a kind of stringy French bean, brinjals, gourds and cucumbers, 
as well as leaves of various wild plants. 

The Bajau's women-folk make a few kinds of delicacies, 
one of the commonest being penjaron, small round cakes of 
native sugar, or molasses and rice-flour, which are sold in 
the markets and, if fresh, have a not unpleasant taste. 
Tapai cakes I shall mention below, and in addition to these 
I have seen pierced rice-flour cakes in fanciful shapes taken 
to the mosques at the end of the fasting month. 

In spite of owning large herds of cattle and buffaloes, the 
Bajaus, like the majority, if not all, of the peoples of the 
Malayan region, do not drink milk, nor do they use it or its 
derivatives (butter and gbi) for cooking. Animals are but 
rarely killed for eating, and then only on such occasions as 
marriages or feast-days. Venison when obtainable is eagerly 
sought after, but pork, both from wild and tame pigs, is of 
course forbidden to them as Mohammedans. 


222 Food ^ Intoxicants 

Coco-nut oil, obtained by boiling the kernels of old nuts 
with water and skimming off the oil which rises to the 
surface, or by pressing them, is used for cooking and for 
many other purposes. In former days coco-nut oil was 
burnt in the old Grecian-shaped standard or hanging brass 
lamps, which can still be sometimes purchased in the villages, 
but are now only used on occasions of ceremony. 

Sugar-cane is planted to a fair extent, and from it is 
obtained the brown molasses which enters into the composi- 
tion of so many kinds of native cakes ; but it is largely eaten 
raw, especially by the children. Indian corn is also grown, 
and is baked or boiled for eating. Fruit is an important 
article of native diet; fruit trees, especially mangoes, im- 
palum^ belimoe, limes, jack fruit and others, are to be found 
in most villages, while pine-apples are occasionally to be seen 
on sale in the markets, together with pommeloes, large 
orange-like fruits, which have been introduced, and are, I 
believe, grown in one of the Ulanun villages around Fort 
Alfred. Red peppers of various kinds form an important 
condiment in both Bajau and Illanun cooking. 

Tapai cakes, made from fermented rice, are commonly 
eaten, and balls of rice-flour mixed with the substances 
used instead of yeast are often to be seen hanging on a 
line outside Bajau houses, where they are left until fermenta- 
tion has set in. Tapai cakes are not unpleasant to eat, the 
liquor from the fermented rice-flour tasting something like 
brandy sauce. 

Unhusked rice is prepared for cooking exactly as among 
the Dusuns — that is to say, by pounding the padi, as rice in 
the husk is called, in a wooden mortar until the grain is 
separated from the chafl", winnowing away the latter in an 
open tray-like basket, and washing the rice before cooking 
in two or three changes of water. 

Intoxicants are of course forbidden to both tribes as 
Mohammedans, but though infraction of this ordinance of 
their religion is not very common, a few Mohammedan 

Food &^ Intoxicants 223 

natives do, as I have already related, obtain drink from their 
pagan neighbours on one pretext or another. Sophisticated 
Mohammedans, both in the Malay Peninsula and Borneo, 
even if observant of religious matters, will drink beer if they 
can obtain it, and say that their religion allows them to do 
so. I have heard them give various reasons for their in- 
dulgence in this liquor ; all of them seem rather flimsy, and 
suggest an adherence rather to the letter of the law than 
to its spirit. 

One man who likes it says that beer, not having been 
invented in the Prophet's time, could not have been for- 
bidden (the same might be said of whisky) ; another that it 
is only forbidden to drink liquor made from any large plant, 
such as the vine (on this assumption whisky would again be 
exempt from prohibition) ; another that beer does not contain 
enough alcohol to come under the interdict. The beers to 
be bought in Chinese shops being usually diiferent brands 
of light lager, the third reason for not abstaining is probably 
the best. 

Stimulants in the form of sireb, betel and tobacco for 
chewing purposes are freely used by both sexes. Tobacco 
purchased from the up-country Dusuns is smoked by the 
men in the form of leaf-covered cigarettes, which taste 
more of the smouldering wrapping than of the tobacco. 

Opium is smoked by some Bajau and Illanun men, but 
the smokers form a very small percentage of the males of 
either tribe, though the Illanuns are more addicted to the 
vice than the Bajaus: even in their case it is usually only 
the chiefs who are opium smokers. Opium seems to have a 
much more harmful effect on Malays and on other native 
peoples of the Archipelago than on the Chinese. A Malay 
opium smoker is almost invariably an absolutely hopeless 
person to deal with, but the Chinaman, unless he be a very 
old hand, who indulges heavily in the drug, seems to 
experience very little damage in so far as his capabilities for 
doing business are concerned, though an opium-smoking 

2 24 Food &^ Intoxicants 

Chinaman can usually be detected by certain bodily signs. 
What the reason for this is I do not know. Possibly the 
Malayan peoples have naturally more weakly constitutions 
than the Chinese ; or the vice, being of more recent introduc- 
tion among these peoples, has a greater demoralising eiFect 
on them than on the inhabitants of far Cathay ; or the Malay 
is more reckless in his indulgence than the Chinaman. 



COURTSHIP and marriage among the Bajaus are not 
subjects about which I can write a great deal, though 
I was once present at a Bajau marriage, or at any 
rate at the ceremonies performed on the final day. The 
number of wives which a Mohammedan native may take 
unto himself — namely, four — is limited by Mohammedan 
law, based, I presume, on the teachings of the Koran. 

As among the pagans, Mohammedans pay a berian at 
marriage, though this, instead of being looked upon as a 
perquisite of the woman's relations, is frequently put by 
for the benefit of any children who may be born, and held 
in trust by the mother and father of the girl. The usual 
berian mentioned in the case of a commoner is three pikuls 
of brass (cannon). The pikul is loo katties (i kattie is equal 
to 1 1 lb.). A pikul of brass was formerly valued at $50*00 
Mexican. The present value is about $20*00 according to 
Orang Kaya Arsat. At the present day cannon may not be 
actually included in the berian given, cattle, buffaloes, gongs 
or other brass-ware, reckoned to be their equivalent in value, 
being received instead. 

The portion, or portions, of the marriage ceremony which 
I saw was the procession of the bridegroom to the bride's 
house, escorted by a number of young men wearing krises, 
and the whole, or part, of the actual wedding ceremony. 
As I made no notes at the time I have to rely on my memory 
of an event which happened some five years ago, hence 
there may be errors in my description. The first part of 
the ceremony that I witnessed in the house was a general 
meeting of all those interested in the marriage, except the 
p 225 

2 26 Love, Courtship ^ Marriage 

bride, who was not present. The terms of the contract 
were recited and the husband publicly instructed in his 
duties as a married man by one of the elders of the mosque 
— the Imam, I believe. The rest of the performance con- 
sisted of ceremonially putting the couple to bed and the 
momentary appearance of the bride in order to sit with the 
bridegroom before the assembled company; but I cannot 
clearly remember which part of the ceremony came first — I 
rather think the putting to bed. 

The Bajau bride and bridegroom are lucky in not having 
to endure the lengthy bersanding (ceremony) which Malay 
couples have to undergo, both bride and bridegroom sitting 
almost motionless, perhaps for hours together, while their 
relations and friends come to pay their respects and make 
presents of money. The glimpse we obtained of the Bajau 
bride was fleeting, and I was told that she would not have 
stopped as long as she did had I not expressed a wish to 
see the bridal costume. I do not remember that the bride- 
groom's dress differed in any important particular from that 
worn by the average young Bajau on occasions of ceremony, 
with, perhaps, the exception that he wore a kris, but the 
bride's head was crowned with a kind of silver tiara, and she 
wore a set of silver ornaments exactly like the guards used 
by rich Chinamen to protect their long finger-nails. As far 
as I can recollect, these are used on the right hand only, and 
three of them form a set, the points of the thumb and second 
finger not being covered. At any rate two sets which I 
purchased comprise only three guards each. 

Of course a Bajau wedding is an opportunity for a feast, 
which is not likely to be ignored, hence there is always a 
large gathering of villagers at every wedding. Matriarchy 
obtaining to a certain extent among the Bajaus, the bride- 
groom does not take his bride home to his father's house, 
or immediately settle down in a dwelling of his own, but 
stops for about two months with his wife's people, employing 
his time, perhaps, during this customary domicile with his 

Love, Courtship ^ Marriage 227 

mother-in-law in building a house for himself. Before 
marriage opportunities for courting are, I believe, not very- 
numerous, in spite of the fact that Bajau women enjoy a 
great deal of freedom. The arrangements for a marriage 
and the manner in which the herian is to be paid are made 
by the parents of the contracting parties. 

The theory of matrilineal descent is not carried to such 
lengths among the Bajaus as among some of the Malays 
— e.g, the Malays of Negri Sembilan and, I believe, of 
Menangkabau, where all land descends in the female line. 
The male children inherit the land, cattle, buifaloes, ponies, 
gongs, etc., while the women receive the household goods, 
perhaps a little brass-ware — anything, in fact, which is used 
by women only, such as sets of kulintangan or dulcimer 
gongs, essentially women's instruments. 

If a man dies leaving a wife and only young children, the 
deceased's brother often makes an attempt to obtain some of 
the property, and is frequently successful. 

A rough wooden coffin is used at funerals, and, if I 
remember rightly — I may, however, very possibly be in- 
correct in this statement, as 1 write from memories of five 
years ago — this has no bottom, being merely placed over 
the body, which rests on a bier. Rough standing stones 
are set up over graves, or sometimes wooden posts are used 
instead. One post, or stone, is placed at the head of the 
grave, another marks the position either of the middle ot 
the body or of the knees. In the case of Illanuns of high 
rank — for instance, the family of the head chief, the Dato 
Meradan — a new grave has to be continually guarded, night 
and day, for a period of a hundred days after the death has 
taken place, a hut being built for the purpose of sheltering 
the watcher. 

While I was stationed at Kotabelud the wife of Orang 
Kaya Arsat, the sister of the Dato Meradan, died, and the 
Orang Kaya had to conform to this Illanun custom, though 
he himself is a Banjarese. The watching must have been a 

22 8 Love, Courtship &^ Marriage 

very trying experience, and he seemed comparatively seldom 
to install a substitute. The reason for this practice is that 
a body-snatching spirit, the Berbalan, is thought to be con- 
tinually on the prowl to plunder newly made graves, and, 
judging by the Illanun's procedure, he has a particular desire 
to disturb those of persons of good family. 

Divorce among the Bajaus and Illanuns is given according 
to Mohammedan custom, the third or final divorce being 
absolute. In the Malay Peninsula a man who has finally 
divorced his wife can take her back by getting her nominally 
married to another man, known as a Cbina buta (blind 
Chinaman), who then divorces her before she re-marries 
her former husband. This absolute divorce may be given 
in the first place. First divorce or second divorce (talak dua^ 
talak tigd) are less severe forms, and the husband may take 
his wife again without ceremony, provided that this is done 
within a stated time, while during that time his wife may 
not marry another man. Should the allotted period have 
expired, and the husband, having thought matters over 
again, wish to take his wife back, he can do so, but must 
re-marry her. Divorce does not, however, seem to be very 
frequently resorted to. 



THE Illanuns, and especially their women, are makers 
of articles of considerable beauty. The Bajaus of 
the Tempassuk are much less skilled, but the 
women are fairly expert cloth-weavers, an art which they 
seem to have learnt from their Illanun sisters. Formerly 
the Illanuns had a great reputation as silversmiths, but un- 
fortunately the Illanun silversmith is now extinct, having 
been ousted by the enterprising Chinaman. The native 
worker in Malaysia is, owing to his methods, always at a 
disadvantage as regards the latter ; for the Chinese crafts- 
man is a specialist, who, when he is not working on orders 
he has received from customers, is turning out goods for 
stock, so that he may have something to sell when a possible 
purchaser comes along. 

Supposing you want an article made by a native craftsman, 
the following sort of experience probably befalls you, the 
article you want being, say, a brass betel-box. First of all 
you must find out where there is a brass-worker. After 
many futile inquiries you hear that there is one in a village 
three miles away. Setting out for this place, and having 
taken several wrong turns, you at last arrive at his house, 
only to find that he is out catching a buifalo or has gone to 
a village a mile or so away in order to visit a sick relative. 
A messenger is sent to fetch him, and after a wait of a 
couple of hours he arrives. 

The next trouble is that he has no ready-made boxes in 

stock, no metal from which to manufacture even one, and 

no money to buy it with. This makes it necessary to give him 

a money advance, and he then has to search for someone 


230 Manufactures 

who has some broken brass articles suitable for melting 
up. The metal once obtained, he will work upon your 
order in the intervals between padi-planting and fishing, 
therefore you must not expect to receive the completed 
article for a month or more ; but if you give him a free 
hand and pay a good price, so that he is interested in show- 
ing you what he can do, he will probably turn you out 
a really beautiful piece of work. Unfortunately, unless 
native craftsmen can be taught to specialise, it seems likely 
that as a class they are doomed to extinction, owing to the 
competition of the Chinese worker, and of the cheap and 
shoddy imitations of native-made articles which are manu- 
factured in Europe. 

Probably cloth-weaving will be carried on in the Tempassuk 
long after brass-casting, wood-carving and weapon-making 
have become lost arts. The Bajau or Illanun young man is 
extremely fond of dressing himself up in fine clothes, and 
the article of clothing by which he sets most store, if he 
possesses one, is an expensive native-woven head-cloth. 
Some of these cloths, especially if they contain much 
*' gold " thread, are priced at anything up to thirty dollars, 
though the cheaper kinds can be purchased for a dollar or a 
dollar and a half. 

Tempassuk cloths have a considerable reputation outside 
the district, and are exported to some extent to Tuaran, 
where the Bajaus do not weave cloth, or even farther afield. 
Many of the Bajau and Illanun women of the district spend a 
great deal of their time in weaving these cloths ; and in some 
villages, especially the Illanun settlements near Pindasan, 
the clack-clack of the weaver's sword as she beats up the 
last-placed threads of the cloth can be heard issuing from 
every house. The man whose wife is a good weaver need 
do very little work, but can live on the proceeds from the 
sales of her manufactures, which she herself often peddles 
in the local markets. 

In former days native-spun cotton thread and native dyes 

Manufactures 231 

for colouring it were the rule, but now ready-dyed thread, 
bought at the Chinese shops, is generally, if not universally, 
in use. Since aniline dyes are used as the colouring matter, 
and the thread is of rather inferior quality, the cloths now 
produced probably do not compare favourably with those 
formerly made from native materials, but even the modern 
cloths have wonderful lasting powers, although the colours 
are apt to fade and do not stand washing well. 

Head-cloths and sleeping-cloths, about which I shall have 
something to say presently, are artificially stiifened, in the 
case of the former to make the ends stand up when tied. 
To produce the stiffening, the dyed thread is immersed in 
water in which rice-starch has been dissolved, and is then 
wound on to a drying wheel of split bamboo. When it is 
thoroughly dry it is ready for weaving. Thread for making 
scarves for tying round the waist (saputangan — />. handker- 
chiefs), or the cloth for coats and trousers, is not usually 

The head-cloth (^justar or dustar) is always a square, but 
its patterns vary according to the kind and quality ; some of 
the most expensive varieties are profusely decorated with 
flower and geometric patterns of different colours in raised 
weaving, which at first sight might easily be taken for 
embroidery; others, generally the cheaper varieties, have 
lines of different colours running through a red or black 
ground. Nearly, if not quite, all head-cloths are differenti- 
ated into a centre and a border region, while in the cheaper 
cloths the former is usually ornamented with bands of 
narrow lines of different breadths and colours running 
parallel along each side and intersecting near the corners. 
These bands give the cloth a look which is rather re- 
miniscent of a Scotch tartan, and the resemblance is often 
further strengthened by the central part being cut up into 
big checks by fine parallel lines running through it. Even 
in the cheaper cloths the small piece contained between the 
corners and the intersecting bands of the borders is usually 

232 Manufactures 

filled in with floral patterns in raised weaving, while in the 
more expensive specimens the whole of the border and 
central portions is almost solid raised weaving. 

Two varieties of sleeping-cloth are made: one, the kain 
noga^ is composed of either two or three pieces of cloth 
placed edge to edge and stitched together. The majority 
of these cloths are striped, and the stripes are worn 
horizontally across the body, the longitudinal edges of the 
compound cloth being sewn together so that it forms a sort 
of bottomless sack like the Malay sarong : the wearer usually 
draws the garment on over his head and slips it off over his 
feet. When sleeping the whole body is wrapped up in the 

I was lucky enough to obtain one magnificent specimen of 
the other type of sleeping-cloth, the kain ampik, of a most 
unusual kind, which, considering the time that it must have 
taken to weave, was a bargain at the price I paid for it 
— four dollars, or about seventeen shillings. The borders 
of the cloth were ornamented with a solid band of raised 
weaving in different colours and gold thread ; the body of 
the cloth was black relieved by a somewhat sparse arrange- 
ment of yellow and white star-like flowers in raised weaving, 
except for a strip of solid raised weaving about a foot wide 
running from top to bottom. There are several varieties 
of the kain a??ipiky but this band of pattern down the back is 
its distinguishing feature. 

This, a most wonderful piece of work, was decorated with | 
small geometrical and other patterns in red, yellow, white -^ 
and gold thread. As every colour and division of the 
pattern requires its own small needle-shuttle, or is simply 
worked in by hand, it will be realised that the skill neces- 
sary for weaving such a cloth must be of no mean order, 
and the time taken to complete it many months. 

Illanun cloth is of better quality than that produced by 
the Bajau women, the weaving being finer and the texture 
closer. This is, I believe, partly due to greater skill in 

Manufactures 233 

weaving and partly to the threads of the woof being better 
beaten up with the weaver's sword. The loom used by 
both peoples is only a little less primitive than that of the 
Dusuns, there being no loom-frame proper beyond the cloth- 
and warp-beams. The treadles are worked by strings; 
there is a hard-wood sword for beating up the warp threads, 
and a comb for keeping the woof threads in proper order. 

Two other handicrafts in which the Bajau and Illanun 
women are experts are the making of mats and* baskets. 
Both are manufactured from the leaves of the screw-palm 
or pandanus, cut into long strips, and some of the best mats 
are of extremely fine texture. The round, squat and open- 
mouthed baskets used chiefly for holding padi are also 
excellent specimens of work, and are sometimes ornamented 
with patterns in colours. Small two-piece wallets for hold- 
ing tobacco, gambler, etc., where one section slips over the 
other, and which somewhat resemble cigar-cases in shape, 
are made from the same materials, and these too are 
decorated with patterns in various colours. 

Embroidery is not much used for ornamenting articles of 
clothing, but I have seen some long mats with very nicely 
worked embroidered corners at their heads, and embroidered 
ends are sometimes found on the round and rectangular 
pillows which are in general use. Small breast-pockets on 
men's coats are occasionally embellished with foliate patterns 
in red thread or silk, as also are ornamental false lacings on 
the fronts of jackets. 

Allied to basket-work is the making of covers for dishes. 
These are in the shape of a truncated cone and consist of a 
wooden framework, covered with broad strips of pandanus (?) 
leaves running perpendicularly, which are dyed in various 
colours and sewn to the frame. Ornaments, cut out of 
pandanus leaf, either geometrical or in the shape of flowers, 
are often stitched on the outside of the cover, especially if 
the covers are used on the occasion of feasts. 

The Bajau men of several villages near the sea, notably 

234 Manufactures 

those of Kampong Kolambai, near the Pangkalan Abai in 
the Tempassuk district, are experts in making shell bracelets 
and armlets. The cheapest kind is made from a species of 
giant clam or Tridacna^ which the natives call kima, A 
single valve of a large Tridacna shell will have a thickness 
of an inch or more except near the edges. From the 
selected shell — which must be an old one, as new shells are 
said to be too brittle — a piece of suitable size is cut, and a 
large hole is then roughly chipped out in the centre of the 
piece. After this the edges of the embryo bracelet are rubbed 
down with sand and water on a large stone. The same 
block of stone, and the same part of it, being always used 
for this purpose, a deep groove is worn in it, which helps 
materially in the forming of the bracelet. The article, 
having been brought to a regular shape, is smoothed and 
polished, and when finished fetches about a dollar in the 
local markets. 

The finer kind of bracelet is made from a species of large 
Conus shell, locally called sulau. The top of the shell is cut 
off and treated in a fashion similar to that already described 
for making Tridacna bracelets; but as shells of sufficient 
size are difficult to obtain, and the material is brittle, and 
therefore more difficult to work, full-sized bracelets of this 
kind are sold for as much as three or four dollars. 

Brass-casting and silver-work have already been mentioned ; 
the former industry is still carried on by a few Ulanuns, the 
method employed being the cira perduta process. The 
chief articles now made are heavy rectangular sireh-hoxes^ 
often quite plain, or with only a few slightly engraved floral 
patterns on the cover ; but I have seen some modern pieces 
ornamented with large lozenges of copper inlay. The art 
of brass-working is rapidly dying out, and very probably will 
be actually dead in another twenty years' time. The prices 
asked for large pieces of modern work are prohibitive, and 
this probably militates against the chances of the art ever 
being revived. 

Manufactures 235 

Very fine old brass boxes can be often picked up for a 
dollar or two in the out-station pawnshops, these being 
unredeemed pledges. The cast and chased ornamentation 
on them is often extremely artistic, and their shapes are 
pleasing. Certain types of these boxes were made in 
Brunei, others, I believe, in the Sulu Islands and Mindanao, 
but probably some few were the work of the Illanun crafts- 
men of Borneo. 

Most villages have a blacksmith, who is capable of turning 
out very fair knives, spear-heads and other small articles, 
but the making of waved or straight kris and sunddng 
blades is now a lost art, if indeed such articles were ever 
made in either district, of which I have no proof: in fact I 
am rather inclined to think that the two commonest forms of 
sword to be found in the hands of the Bajaus and Illanuns, 
the barong or pida, and the sundang, which is locally called 
kris, were mostly imported from Sulu. The long Illanun 
sword, the kompilan, may have been made locally to a small 

The Bajaus of the coastal villages carry on the manu- 
facture of salt by rather a curious process, and trade the 
finished product with the Dusuns of the interior. The 
salt-maker collects large quantities of «//>^-palm roots, 
which contain a good deal of salt, together with other 
drift-wood gathered along the shores. These he heaps 
together into a pile near his salt-making hut and sets fire 
to them. When the fire is burning brightly he damps it 
down with sea-water and heaps on more wood. This 
process is repeated again and again for a couple of days 
or so, until a large heap of wood-ash has been obtained. 
The ashes are then gathered up and pressed down into 
large funnels made of palm spathes, which are placed in a 
row in a rack fastened between two posts of the hut. 
Underneath the row of funnels is placed a small dug-out 

When everything is ready sea-water is poured slowly 

236 Man ufac tures 

into each funnel and allowed to percolate through the ashes 
and down into the canoe. The process is repeated several 
times till it is considered that all the salt mixed with the 
ashes has been carried ofF, and an almost saturated salt 
solution has filled the canoe. The salt-maker then starts 
a fire in a fireplace consisting of two long parallel mud 
walls, set near together and about three and a half to four 
feet high, one wall being pierced at the base with holes set 
at regular intervals, which allow of the fire being attended 
to, and perhaps make a draught. The salt solution is then 
poured out into shallow rectangular dishes made of palm 
spathes, each about one foot six, or nine, inches long by a 
foot broad. These are placed in rows transversely on top 
of the walls of the range and the contents cooked until 
all the water has been driven out. Just before the salt 
becomes dry it is marked out into bars with a knife in order 
to facilitate division of the cakes into smaller pieces. The 
finished product is greyish white in colour, and each cake 
has a browned or blackened crust at the bottom where it 
has been in contact with the dish. 

The making of pottery is in the hands of the women and, 
though no potting wheel is used, very creditable cooking- 
pots and water-gourds in reddish-coloured ware are turned 
out. Some pieces are slightly decorated with patterns 
produced with the aid of small wooden stamps, and are 
given a coating of damar gum. 

One other small industry is perhaps deserving of mention ; 
this is the making of lime for mixing with the sireh-chew. 
Lime is made by burning coral, the shells of saddle-back 
oyster, or of other marine molluscs. At Tuaran pink lime 
is often to be seen on sale in the local markets, but I am 
unable to say by what method it is coloured. Both lime 
and salt are largely traded with the up-country Dusuns, 
but the latter sometimes make an inferior quality of lime 
for themselves by burning fresh-water shells. 

The amount of trading carried on by the Bajaus of the 

Manufactures 237 

Tempassuk is now not large, and is chiefly limited to the 
bartering of fish, salt, sireh^ lime, Bajau cloths and a few 
other articles with the peoples of the interior. In former 
days they seem to have acted as middlemen between the 
Chinese buyers of jungle produce and the Dusun collectors; 
but as the country is now in a peaceful state the Chinese 
are no longer afraid to attend the markets, and so deal 
directly with the Dusuns, without employing an expensive 
and generally untrustworthy go-between. Occasionally a 
Brunei trader who does not wish to make a prolonged stay 
in the district will commission a Bajau to buy a large 
quantity of Dusun tobacco for export; but as the Bajau 
generally is minus both money and most of the promised 
tobacco when the Brunei man's boat puts in again, the 
transaction rarely has a very satisfactory ending for either 
party, the Bajau being harassed by the law, which is set in 
motion by the Brunei, and the latter, if he ever sees his 
money again, probably having to be content with somewhat 
irregular instalments. 

As the Bajaus have large herds of cattle and buffaloes, 
and a fair number of ponies, quite a trade in them is 
developing as the country becomes more opened up. A 
large number of cattle for killing purposes are embarked 
on the small local steamer for shipment to the towns every 
time she calls at Usakan. Buffaloes are exported to the 
Marudu district, where they can be sold at a good price 
for work on the estates; but a fair number are also 
purchased by up-country Dusuns either directly from the 
Bajaus or from the Chinese, who buy animals from the 
Bajaus in order to barter them to the Dusuns for jungle 
produce. The best of the Tempassuk-bred ponies are 
in fair demand locally, and also among the Europeans of 
Tuaran and Jesselton. 


COCK-FIGHTING and racing, together with hunting, 
which I have described elsewhere, are probably the 
three amusements most in favour among the Bajaus. 
The first is largely practised on every occasion when matches 
can be arranged. During my residence at Kotabelud there 
used to be cock-fighting every Sunday afternoon at the 
Chinese shops. Here used to assemble numbers of local 
Bajaus, some of the more sophisticated Dusuns, Chinese 
shopkeepers and native policemen. 

The matches had usually been fixed in advance and, in 
most cases, the merits of the respective birds were fairly 
well known. I have never seen artificial spurs among the 
Bajaus, though they are used by the Dyaks of Sarawak ; 
consequently the sport was not so cruel as it would have 
been with these aids. Charms are largely employed by the 
owners of fighting cocks to ensure the invulnerability of 
their champions, and to cause them to inflict serious wounds 
on their opponents. Ancient stone implements are thought 
specially potent for this purpose, if the bird's beak and spurs 
are rubbed with them. 

An umpire presides at cock-fights, he and the owners of 
the birds being the only persons admitted to the ring, which 
is sometimes enclosed within a bamboo fence. The two 
owners squat opposite to each other, holding their birds on 
the ground between their hands, and after an involuntary 
peck or two on either side, which they are forced to give 
by their masters, at a signal from the umpire the combatants 
are released and the battle begins. It is necessary for a 
bird to run from its opponent three times before it is 


Cock-fighting, Gambling, Amusements 239 

declared vanquished, while it is comparatively seldom that 
a bird who has once turned tail wins the fight. Each 
match thus comprises three rounds, a round being terminated 
by the temporary defeat of one of the birds. 

On the umpire declaring the round at an end, each bird is 
seized by its respective owner, and various measures are 
taken to help it to recover its breath and strength; the 
head and comb are washed ; the beak, mouth and throat 
swabbed out with a feather moistened with water ; the crest 
blown upon with the mouth, and charms surreptitiously 
applied to the feet and beak. Both birds having been 
fettled up, they are set facing one another for the next 

Sometimes a combatant which is very hard pressed will 
run its neck between the "shoulder" of its opponent's 
wing and its body, so that the birds are looking in opposite 
directions over each other's backs, neither of them being 
able to do any damage to his opponent. A "clinch" of 
this kind is not considered fair fighting, and should it 
continue for long the birds are seized by their owners and 
again set facing one another. Accidental locking of this 
kind often occurs, the birds looking most foolish and con- 
fused, each trying in vain to get at his opponent, and neither 
having the wit to extricate himself. 

Yells of applause from the spectators greet the victor at 
the end of each round, and on the conclusion of the match ; 
while any clever piece of work with spurs or beak is also 
greeted with a chorus of approbation. Bets are made 
freely, but the giving of odds seems to be almost or quite 
unknown, all wagering being in even money. Though it is 
not really allowed at such meetings, as it sometimes leads to 
quarrelling, a good deal of cock-fighting goes on at some of 
the smaller markets, which are seldom visited by the police ; 
but the most important matches and the largest number of 
them are fought at Kotabelud, where some supervision can 
be exercised. 

240 Cock-fighting, Gambling, Amusements 

Probably gambling takes rank even before cock-fighting 
as a Bajau amusement. Since the establishment of the 
Chartered Company's rule, gambling, as was the case until 
recently in the Straits Settlements and the Federated Malay 
States, has been made a monopoly, the right to erect 
gambling-houses in townships and out-stations being knocked 
down to the highest bidder, invariably a Chinese " towkay." 
With the gambling monopoly go the monopolies for dealing 
in opium or spirits and pawnbroking : in small settlements 
like Kotabelud or Tuaran all three businesses are often 
conducted under one roof, though a separate part of the 
house or an adjoining shop is reserved for the gambling 

I have always been very much opposed to grandmotherly 
legislation, passed by cranks and faddists, usually a small but 
very active minority, who sometimes manage to impose their 
will on the people of Britain and other countries, owing to 
the majority being too lazy to band together to defend its 
liberties. Furthermore, I believe that attempts to make 
people good by law are seldom permanently successful, the 
usual result being that a vice which has been rigorously 
suppressed, instead of being controlled within decent limits, 
is supplanted by another whose effects are even more 

This does not, however, imply that I look upon the 
gambling shops, where the Bajau squanders his wealth, with 
any friendly eye ; but the reason for my dislike is not based 
on Puritanical grounds. When Bajau gambled with Bajau 
affairs were probably quite bad enough, and the discomfort 
and damage caused to the community at large undoubtedly 
severe ; but the loss of one man was the gain of another, 
and the property or money staked still remained within the 

A much worse state of things is now prevalent ; the 
Bajau's property and money go to enrich the owners of the 
gambling monopoly; his goods are pledged in order to 


n -^ 

%• s 


Cock-fighting, Gambling, Amusements 241 

provide money to gratify his passion, the money obtained from 
the pledging being lost in the gambling-shop, while he often 
continues to pay interest on the valuable articles pawned for 
years without ever being able to redeem them, except that 
he may possibly take them out with borrowed money, renew 
the ticket, and then immediately put them back again. The 
property and wealth of the Bajaus thus find their way into 
the hands of the Chinese, without their receiving any benefit 
in return. The best that can be said of the matter is that 
the gambling- shops are fairly conducted, though, of course, 
the bank always, or nearly always, wins in the long run. 
The pawnshops, too, in out-stations are often extremely 
lenient with their customers, and I have frequently come 
across instances where the broker has waited for a consider- 
able time after he had a right to foreclose on a valued 
article of property in order to give the owner a chance of 
paying up the interest. But this was probably not entirely 
due to kindness, as it would be more profitable for the 
pawnbroker to allow the customer to keep the article in 
for several years, perpetually paying interest on it, than 
to foreclose on the pledge and sell it out of hand for a 
comparatively small amount. 

One game which is in great favour is played on a board 
ruled into twelve squares, each of which has a different 
character marked on it. Round this squat the gamblers and 
the banker. The latter then spins a teetotum, which has 
characters on its sides corresponding to those of the board, 
on a plate, and while it is still spinning shuts it in under a 
tin cover. The players, when the teetotum has ceased to 
spin, put their stakes on the square or squares they fancy, 
and when all have finished the cover is lifted and the 
winning character — i,e, which is uppermost as the top lies 
in the plate — is announced. The bank pays ten times the 
stakes placed on the winning square ; the others are raked in. 

Various kinds of card games are also played in the 
gambling-farm, but these are private affairs among the 

242 Cock-fighting, Gambling, Amusements 

natives themselves, a small fee being paid to the manager 
of the gambling-shop to allow them to use it. 

Among the chief articles which find their way into the 
pawnshop to supply money for gambling are heavy old 
brass betel-boxes — often very beautiful specimens of the 
brass-caster's art — old silver-ware and various types of 
weapons. The very best weapons, with fine blades, large 
ivory bird-shaped tops to the hilts and silver mountings, are 
somewhat rarely to be found exposed for sale among the 
unredeemed pledges, since they are regarded as heirlooms 
by the natives ; and though there may be many of them in 
the pawnshop, their owners nearly always manage to keep 
the interest on them paid up and to renew the tickets 
periodically. Nevertheless the pawnshop is a happy hunting- ;j 
ground for those who have sufficient insight to be able to 
admire the beautiful old brass-ware, while the less highly 
priced native weapons and betel-boxes can be picked up 
ridiculously cheap. 

To obtain a good collection, perseverance, time and trouble 
are as necessary for success as in most other matters. It is 
quite useless to go once to the pawnshop and come away 
grumbling that there is nothing nice in the place. Visits 
must be paid periodically, say every fortnight, and before 
long some beautiful specimen will be obtained which will be 
more than sufi[icient reward for the trouble taken. 

The very best weapons, even if obtainable, are, according 
to European ideas, extremely expensive. The large ivory 
hilt of one of these alone may, according to native ideas, 
be worth anything from twenty to thirty dollars; and 
sixty dollars (about ^7 English) would not be at all an 
out-of-the-way price for a fine kris {sundang). Parang 
ilang^ really Dyak or Kayan weapons, so-called krises with 
fine blades but wooden or very small ivory hilts, and heavy- 
bladed Sulu pida (sometimes called barong) can, however, be 
frequently bought for anything from one to three or four 

Cock-fighting, Gambling, Amusements 243 

The gambling-house in an out-station with a Bajau popu- 
lation is generally crowded with natives the whole day long, 
and I am afraid that besides the Bajaus some of the low- 
country Dusuns, especially those of Tuaran, are rather 
badly infected with the gambling fever. 

Racing on ponies, buffaloes or cattle is also a very favourite 
amusement among the Bajaus. When I was stationed in the 
Tempassuk regular race-meetings used to be got up (if I 
remember rightly) every Thursday on an open space near 
the bridle-path which leads from Kotabelud to Usakan Bay, 
while native sports arranged by Europeans, especially if 
they include pony-races, are most enthusiastically welcomed. 
The little native ponies, though extremely hardy, are given 
practically no attention ; their rough coats are never brushed 
or groomed, and great patches of hair are often destroyed 
by the ravages of numbers of large cattle-ticks. 

A saddle is frequently absolutely dispensed with; the 
reins are of rope and the bit is a curious native-made brass 
snaffle. I have seen natives riding in the most reckless way 
during a race, apparently intoxicated with excitement : they 
yelled, threw their bodies and arms about, and apparently 
guided their ponies almost entirely with their knees, though 
they now and then belaboured their steeds with a rattan 
switch, a very effective little instrument consisting of three 
or four small round canes bound together at one end to 
form a handle. 

An account of Bajau and Illanun amusements would not 
be complete without some reference to native dancing, and 
especially to the b^runsai, a form of dance which is, I believe, 
peculiar to the Bajaus. In the ordinary native dances, in 
which only one or two male performers take part, the 
posturing motions so much in favour in Java and other islands 
of the Archipelago are much in evidence. 

In dances illustrating warfare a sword of the type called 
sundang is placed on the floor, the blade and the sheath 
being crossed. Round these the solitary performer, a man. 

244 Cock-fighting, Gambling, Amusements 

revolves to the music of gongs and drums. His arms, wrists 
and hands are constantly in motion, and his body turns 
slowly, while his feet keep time to the music with curious 
half-stamping, half-shuffling steps. He is showing the 
audience how strong and how bold a man he is ; the stretch- 
ing of the arms in tense positions, the slow upward turning 
of the palms of his hands, the defiant stamping of the feet 
and the fierce air of the dancer all being calculated to convey 
these impressions. The onlookers by this time have become 
stirred up to a tremendous pitch of excitement, and yells of 
applause greet every fresh posture of defiance. Suddenly 
the performer shades his eyes with his hand — he has spied 
an enemy. He seizes the weapon from the ground and 
manoeuvres to gain an advantage over his approaching adver- 
sary. He sinks to the ground and stealthily crawls towards 
his imaginary opponent, who presumably is using identical 
tactics. Finally there comes the dash into the open, the 
quick stabbing of his enemy and the conqueror's dance of 
defiance and victory. A clever dancer can so work the 
natives up that they seem to lose all sense of the unreality 
of the performance, while the air is rent with yells and 

I once saw a very amusing monkey-dance performed by 
two men who had stuck pieces of raw cotton on their eye- 
brows and chins, the make-up being intended to give them 
the appearance of >^r^-monkeys. Their antics were so 
ridiculously comic that they " brought down the house," the 
natives, another European and myself, being absolutely 
incapable with laughter. 

The peculiar Bajau dance called berunsai is preceded by 
a musical entertainment, and sometimes by other dances, 
which may last for anything up to a couple of hours, the 
performance starting at about eight or nine p.m. and lasting 
till daylight. At one berunsai which I witnessed the musical 
instruments consisted of three large, broad-edged gongs with 
large and projecting bosses of the kind called tawag-tawag\ 

Cock-fighting, Gambling, Amusements 245 

two flat- faced gongs of the variety known as chenang or 
chanang ; two double-ended drums ; and a set of nine 
kulintangan^ small gongs arranged in a row on two strings 
stretched from end to end of a long frame and played with 
two little club-shaped pieces of wood in the manner of a 
dulcimer. All these instruments were used in the pre- 
liminary musical entertainment, the performers on them, 
with the exception of the kulintangan, being men. 

These gong dulcimers appear to be regarded as women's 
instruments, and as every lady who considered herself an 
accomplished musician took a turn at them, the performance 
became somewhat wearisome. The large gongs, tawag- 
tawags and chenangs, beaten by men or boys, are hung from 
cross-beams of the house, the note of the former being 
changed by grasping and releasing their bosses with the 
left hand. The two drum-beaters sit cross-legged opposite 
to each other, with their instruments upon their knees. 
One end of each drum is struck with a small stick held in 
the right hand, the other with the wrist and open palm 
of the left hand. The music produced is by no means 
unpleasing, but a little of it goes a long way. 

When all the women have had their turn at the kulin- 
tangan the bSrunsai proper begins. Some three or four men, 
one of whom is the leader of the dance, make their way to 
a space in the centre of the room which has been cleared 
in readiness. They begin by walking round and round in a 
circle, chanting slowly meanwhile, and inviting the women to 
come out and dance with them. The circling is from left 
to right, and there is no reversal of this motion throughout 
the dance. More men join the circle, and after a decorous 
interval, in which they make a pretence of overcoming their 
diffidence, three or four women leave their sisters who are 
sitting at the back of the room and bashfully approach 
the men. 

The latter then join hands, but the circle remains open 
between the leader and the man following him. The 

246 Cock-fighting, Gambling, Amusements 

women enter the circle by this gap, and the leader of the 
women grasps the scarf which hangs from the left shoulder 
of the men's leader, the other women attaching themselves 
behind her in single file. The men then begin to pay the 
women all sorts of extravagantly Eastern compliments, each 
verse being chanted by the men's leader and taken up by 
his followers, to which the women reply that the men are 
making fun of them. The pace becomes increased, a 
regular step taking the place of the walk ; the circle is 
entirely closed and the women move farther into the centre, 
but retain their position with regard to the men's leader. 
The men press their attentions on the women only to meet 
with a sharp rebuff; and as the fire of sally and retort 
becomes hotter and hotter, so the dance increases in pace 
until the men are (supposedly) worked up to a great pitch 
of excitement and the whole circle is revolving at a tremen- 
dous rate, almost every step of the dance becoming a terrific 

Then the women, feigning to be frightened at the angry 
passions they have stirred up in the men, relent somewhat, 
and as their answers become less provocative, so the ardour 
of the men also lessens in degree, till at length the dance 
falls away into a slow step and finally into a walk, though a 
slow chanted interchange of compliments and replies is still 
kept up. Presently the dance again increases in intensity 
with a quicker exchange of pleasantries, but only to die 
away gradually as before. Thus the performance continues 
till the early hours of the morning. 



NOMINALLY both the Bajaus and the Illanuns are 
orthodox Mohammedans of the Sunnite sect, but 
actually they are extremely lax in the observance 
of the precepts of their religion ; not that their belief in its 
truth is any way weak, but their ideas are somewhat similar 
to those of the Peninsula Malays, who seem to reckon on 
late repentance as a means of ridding themselves of the 
burden of their sins. The Bajaus have the further excuse 
that Mohammedan teachers of any erudition are extremely 
rare among them. 

The great mass of the people is illiterate, and therefore 
not even books on religious subjects, written in Malay, can 
be read by them. Of course even the literate Malay of the 
Peninsula is unable to understand the Koran, although he 
can read the Arabic, since the characters in which Malay 
is now written were originally introduced by the Arabs who 
converted so many of the tribes of the Archipelago to the 
religion of the Prophet. He has to rely on the exposi- 
tions of Koran teachers, and on pious commentaries in the 
vernacular. So far as I know, no attempt has ever been 
made to translate the Koran into any language used in the 
Eastern Archipelago, and I believe that anyone making an 
attempt to do so would be " excommunicated " for impiously 
daring to tamper with the sacred book by translating it into 
the common tongue. 

The average Bajau man, at any rate in his young days, 

seldom attends mosque on Fridays or keeps the fasting 

month of Ramadan. All Mohammedan youths undergo 

circumcision, but beyond this, and abstention from pork, 


248 Religion &> Folklore 

and generally from intoxicating liquor, their religion seems 
but little to affect their daily life. The five daily prayer- 
times are neglected, except by such as aspire to be 
considered pious, and by old men who are preparing 
themselves to pass into the next world. 

Sharips — alleged descendants of the Prophet, of partly 
Arab blood — of whom there are a fair number in the 
Tempassuk, are, however, regarded with great respect, as 
are also bajis or returned Mecca pilgrims, a fact of which 
unscrupulous impostors have not been slow to take ad- 
vantage. In one case a bogus holy man travelled about 
the country, presenting the simple inhabitants with spurious 
gold dinars (a Turkish gold coin), which he was careful to 
inform his hosts were extremely old, valuable and sacred, 
as he had brought them all the way from the holy city of 
Mecca. As in the East a present calls for a present, and 
usually a larger one than that received, the good man was 
soon loaded with valuable property presented to him by his 
grateful admirers. Unfortunately for him, someone at last 
found out that the valuable coins were only gilt, and the 
good man was arrested. The plea that he had given away 
the coins, on which he depended for an acquittal, should 
his trick be discovered, did not avail him, and, as far as I 
remember, he involuntarily retired to a cell to meditate on 
matters religious or otherwise. 

Another form of imposition, which would flourish were 
it not firmly suppressed, is the collection of alms (sedekah) 
by religious impostors for the nominal purpose of enabling 
them to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca. This sort of 
cheating is not usually done by natives, but by scoundrelly 
wandering Pathans and other foreign Mohammedans from 
the towns, who have as much intention of going to Mecca 
as to the moon, there being, of course, absolutely no 
objection to a native who really wishes to visit Mecca 
collecting locally. This form of cheating is extremely 
lucrative, provided the culprit can escape detection, as most 

Religion &^ Folklore 249 

Mohammedan natives not only believe that they acquire 
merit by helping a would-be pilgrim to realise his ambition, 
but would consider that if they did not give such assistance 
as they could afford they would be committing a serious sin. 

One gentleman whom I had the pleasure of fining pretty 
severely, and of sending back to the place whence he came, 
was a self-styled convert from Sikhism. He came through 
from Jesselton and Tuaran on a journey to Kudat to collect 
funds, according to his own account, to enable him to 
perform the pilgrimage; but previous to his arrival I had 
been warned about him, and told that he had been for- 
bidden to ask for alms on his journey. He came and 
reported himself to me, and said that he wished to stop the 
night with the Pathan cow-keeper who looked after the 
Government herd of cattle. 

However, he had hardly been a couple of hours in the 
place when I was told that he had been begging. It 
appeared that after having obtained several contributions 
from Bajaus whom he met in the shops and elsewhere 
he had gone into the nearest village and climbed up into 
a house where there were only women at home, an action 
quite against Mohammedan custom, and an outrage which 
in some countries would probably entail the penalty of 
death. Here he had demanded sedekah, and had continued 
to press his demands although the women asked him to 
return when the owner of the house was at home, promising 
him a substantial sum. Finally they gave him what money 
they could, and he then began to grumble, saying that it 
was not fitting that so large a house should make so small 
a contribution. This was, of course, another offence, since 
alms, however small, should be received with gratitude. 

Ramadan, the fasting month, is ushered in among the 
devout by an epidemic of spitting, for the orthodox will 
not swallow anything from sunset to sunrise, their own 
saliva included. This continuous fusilade of expectoration 
is rather apt to get on the nerves at first, especially as the 

250 Religion &^ Folklore 

performers seem to want to accomplish their object with 
the maximum amount of noise, possibly in order to show 
forth their piety. 

Hari Raya (the Great Day), the first day of Shawal, the 
month succeeding Ramadan, and therefore the first day on 
which those who have been fasting may take food and drink 
during the day-time, is a general occasion for feasting and 
rejoicing. The finish of the fast at about six o'clock on the 
last day of Ramadan is ushered in with the firing of small 
cannon and Chinese crackers, the din and smell of gun- 
powder in particularly pious neighbourhoods being often 
appalling. No doubt fasting is a severe trial, as, although 
food is plentifully partaken of at night, not even water may 
be touched during the day-time, a serious deprivation in a 
hot country; and of course chewing sireb or smoking are 
equally forbidden. 

Among those who do attempt to observe the fasting 
month some do not persevere till the end, and others, 
though I believe this is not frequently the case in the 
Tempassuk, take both food and drink by stealth, in order 
that they may acquire an undeserved reputation for piety. 

The Bajau or Illanun mosque is usually a slight house- 
shaped building with a palm-leaf attap roof and side-walls 
reaching only half-way to the eaves. The walls are also of 
attaps, and one end of the building, which has a niche in 
the wall, faces towards Mecca. The faithful are called to 
prayers by beating a large single-ended drum with a long 
body, made from a section of hollow tree-trunk. The drum 
is often suspended in the building. Some of the villages of 
the Sulaman Inlet have mosques built over the water. 

The officers of the mosque are the Imam or priest, the 
Khatib, who acts as reader, and the Bilal, who calls the 
faithful to prayers. The man who performs the rite of 
circumcision is known by the title of Mudin. 

Undoubtedly both the Bajaus and Illanuns, being but lax 
Mohammedans, still cherish many superstitions, relics of an 

Religion &^ Folklore 251 

older form of religion, which would be denounced as heathen 
by more orthodox followers of the Prophet ; but to my 
mind their religious ideas are interesting just so far as their 
Mohammedanism is bad, or perhaps better, so far as their 
earlier animistic beliefs survive. I must, however, plead 
guilty to having done but little work on this subject, as I 
had so many more subjects for investigation among the 
Dusuns, and so little leisure in which to make inquiry, that 
I thought it useless to spend my time in attempting to 
gather remnants of beliefs, many of which had received a 
Mohammedan veneer of respectability. 

In several cases, when taking down folk- tales from Bajaus, 
I have been annoyed to find, after I had been writing for 
some time, that I was getting stories of the doings of the 
Prophet or some of his followers — narratives which, of 
course, were not native to the soil of Borneo. In fact I 
almost gave up trying to collect Bajau stories for this reason, 
and I am afraid I somewhat hurt the feelings of a Bajau 
who was frequently at my house in company with a Dusun 
friend of mine owing to the marked preference I gave to 
the tales of the latter. 

One of the chief non-Mohammedan rites practised by the 
Bajaus, and also by the Dusuns, is the yearly launching of 
small rafts or boats with oiferings on them, in order to bear 
away from the village troublesome spirits which are supposed 
to have assembled on the raft to partake of the offerings. 
Similar rafts are made use of in the Malay Peninsula, and 
are generally called anchak lanchong\ but here, I believe, 
they are now chiefly set adrift in times of sickness. 

The practice of medicine among the Bajaus is a good deal 
mixed up with magical performances, while texts from the 
Koran, either written on paper or repeated, and much less 
orthodox recitations are used as charms, but I had not the 
time to dip deeply into the subject. Blowings with the 
mouth on the part affected are also employed to relieve pain 
by the old men who are reputed to be skilled in medicine. 

252 Religion &^ Folklore 

Small flags, generally of white cotton stuff, are sometimes 
to be seen hung outside houses where someone is lying ill : 
they are possibly placed there with the intention of keeping 
away evil spirits. 

I was told of one rather peculiar remedy which is some- 
times employed when a child is thin and has a poor appetite. 
Should the parents hear that a crocodile has been caught 
near any of the neighbouring villages, the child is taken to 
the spot and its hand placed in the dead animal's mouth. 
The idea is that, as the crocodile is extremely voracious, 
a good appetite will be induced in anyone whose hand is 
placed in contact with its mouth. 



AS I think I have mentioned elsewhere, both Illanuns 
and Bajaus are by nature truculent swashbucklers. 
Owing to their overbearing demeanour, rather than 
to their bravery — though they are sometimes distinguished 
by a sort of reckless daring — they easily imposed themselves 
as superiors on the generally timid and unwarlike pagans. 
Being essentially predatory tribes, the manufacture of 
implements of warfare has naturally attained some degree 
of development among them; and, with a few exceptions, 
such as the blow-pipe and the gayang or parang ilang^ all 
the kinds of weapons to be found in the hands of the 
pagans are also in use among the Bajaus and Illanuns, who 
were either their makers, or at any rate the middlemen 
through whom they reached the hands of their neighbours. 

Since the manufacture of weapons of war is now to all 
intents and purposes a lost art among the coastal peoples, it 
is rather difficult to ascertain with any certainty which of 
the present weapons were made locally, especially as many 
types have a fairly wide distribution. Besides this, the 
Tempassuk district seems to be on the border-line between 
two cultures, southern and western and northern and eastern, 
the former being propagated from Brunei, the latter from 
the Sulu Islands and Mindanao. 

Thus some of the weapons in use, such as the Malay 
kris proper, and probably the " Crusader " sword, or pedang^ 
were introduced from Brunei ; while the long Illanun sword, 
the kompilan^ with its curiously carved and flattened handle, 
and its blade, narrow near the hilt, but broad and heavy 
at the point, came from Mindanao, the place of origin of 

2 54 Weapons &^ Warfare 

the Illanuns themselves. Types of handle and blade some- 
what similar to that of the kompilan are, however, found in 
islands farther to the east, notably Celebes and Timor. 
(See British Museum Handbook to the Ethnographical 
Collections^ p. 94, {U) and (r).) 

The kind of sword or dagger locally termed kris, but 
called sundang or s^rundang by the Malays of the Peninsula 
and of Sumatra (which, if we are to accept them as 
authorities, is not a kris at all, the Malayan kris being used 
only as a stabbing and thrusting weapon), and the sundang for 
cutting, slashing and stabbing, present rather a difficult 
problem as to their place of origin. Specimens of this type 
of weapon are fairly commonly to be found in the Malay 
States of the Peninsula and I believe in Sumatra also, while 
they are probably the weapons most in use among the 
coastal peoples of our two districts and according to report are 
derived from the Sulus. (See British Museum Handbook to 
the Ethnographical Collections^ p. 95, where a specimen from 
Sulu is figured.) Possibly the sundang may have been intro- 
duced into the Peninsula and Sumatra by the pirates and 
traders who annually visited these waters from Borneo and 

Another weapon which bids fair to rival the kris 
{sundang) in popularity is the pida or barong^ also a Sulu 

The companion of the kompilan or the long Illanun sword 
is a peculiar type of shield called klasug. This stands about 
four feet high, is about one foot six inches broad, and has 
a peculiarly shaped boss. As far as I have been able to 
ascertain — for specimens are difficult to obtain nowadays — 
the Bajau shield was generally circular and made of wood, 
but I believe that more rarely rattan shields like those of 
the up-country Dusuns were to be found among the tribe. 
No doubt, however, weapons and shields of almost any type 
made in this part of Borneo, or in those neighbouring 
countries with which there was much intercourse, were in 

Weapons &^ Warfare 255 

use among the lowlanders, both Mohammedans and pagans, 
since I have had a klasug brought for sale to me by a 
Dusun and a kompilan by a Bajau. 

True krises of the Malay or Javanese types seem to be 
uncommon, and are usually much prized. The value of 
a Sulu kris (sundang) is estimated partly on the workman- 
ship of the blade, but much more on the material from which 
the hilt is made. Weapons of this type, with quite good 
blades and wooden hilts, can be picked up very cheaply; 
but a specimen with a fine blade, silver mountings and a 
large ivory handle will command anything up to seventy 
dollars or more. The art of damascening the blades of 
weapons, which formerly flourished in Sumatra, Java and 
the Malay States, seems never to have been developed 
in the part of Borneo with which I am acquainted ; and 
with the exception of the blades of a few weapons (mostly 
Malay type krises) which were obviously of foreign origin, 
I never remember having seen this method of ornamentation 

The Bajaus and Illanuns appear to have formerly used 
brass chain-mail coats and some kind of brass helmet, which 
was called atub-atub and very possibly copied from those 
worn by the Arabs. I made many endeavours to obtain 
a specimen of each of these articles, but always without 
success. As far as I could ascertain, some European on 
a plantation near Kudat had formerly offered such high 
prices for them that the local stock, never very large, was 
quite exhausted. Padded and quilted coats ornamented 
with embroidered texts in Arabic characters, which probably 
had a talismanic use, were also sometimes worn under the 
coat of mail. 

Spears of various types, which may be used either for 
stabbing or throwing, are largely used at the present day 
in hunting. When not in use their heads are protected 
by a wooden sheath, the two portions of which are bound 
together with rattan cane. 1 was lucky enough to obtain a 

256 Weapons &^ Warfare 

rare kind of spear which was described to me as being only 
used by chiefs. Its pecuharity lies in the fact that about a 
foot in the middle of the shaft is covered with the long and 
delicate feathers of some kind of bird, but it is also decorated 
just below the blade with a beautifully worked silver mount. 

I believe that the use of this weapon was ceremonial, and 
that it was carried before a chief as a sign of rank, just as 
the short spears ornamented on the shaft with bunches of dyed 
vegetable fibre and known as tombak b^nderang are to the 
present day borne before Malay Sultans on occasions of state. 

Brass cannon, chiefly of the varieties known as lela and 
rantuka^ are still to be found stored away in many Bajau 
and lUanun houses, especially those of men of importance. 
The majority of these weapons were cast either in Brunei or 
Sulu. Little toy cannon of the same metal are also some- 
times met with. These were, I believe, and possibly still 
are, used for firing blank charges on festive occasions, as, for 
instance, at the end of the Ramadan fast. 

The weapons of the Bajaus and Illanuns were utilised 
partly against the neighbouring pagan tribes, whom they 
seem to have oppressed very badly; partly against native 
or even European shipping ; and, as I have mentioned else- 
where, the Illanuns were feared as far away as the coasts of 
the Malay Peninsula. The Bajaus' reputation as sea-robbers 
was only second to that of the Illanuns', the word "Bajau" 
being almost synonymous with pirate. 

Abdullah, a Malay miinshi (teacher) who lived at Singa- 
pore and was somewhat of a protege of Raffles and other 
of the earliest administrators of that settlement, paid a visit 
to the east coast of the Peninsula, and in his Pelayaran 
Abdullah ("Abdullah's Voyage"), which he wrote in 1852, 
he gives us some idea of the fear inspired by the Illanuns 
in Pahang, Trengganu and Kelantan; indeed he fell in 
with a pirate prahu, apparently Illanun, at the mouth of 
the Kelantan river, but was fortunate enough to escape 
molestation on account of his having business with the raja. 

Weapons &^ Warfare 257 

He draws a picture for us of the pirate chief standing up 
in the prahu, a throwing-spear grasped in his hand, "his 
moustache on one side trained over his ear, on the other 
wound on his neck." He also remarks that the rover's 
followers were dark-skinned and sturdy, but gives us no 
description of the craft he owned. 

Some details about the Illanun and Bajau pirates are given 
in the Papers relating to Piracy (Borneo) presented to the House 
of Commons by Command of her Majesty^ April 18^0^ and in 
Piracy {Borneo), Copies of Extracts of any Dispatches relating 
to the Suppression of Piracy off the coast of Borneo. One of 
the most interesting references to the Illanuns which I have 
come across in looking through these is to be found in the 
extracts from the Historical Notices upon the Piracies committed 
in the East Indian Archipelago, by Jhr. J. P. Cornets de 
Grott, Secretary-General to the Minister for the Colonies 
(Dutch), of which the original French and an English 
translation are given. 

Speaking of the Illanuns, he says : " The pirates of 
Magindano or Illanoun, one of the Philippine Isles, commonly 
called Magindanais and Lanounais, incessantly annoy the Isle 
of Bintang, and the islands in the vicinity of the latitude of 
Linga, as well as those situated between Borneo and the 
Peninsula of Malacca — namely, Poeloe Auwer, Siantan, 
Boengoeran, Poeloe Tingi, Poeloe Laut and Tammelan. 

** In the middle of the month of April they generally quit 
their retreats, and proceed along the eastern and western 
coasts of Borneo, on the side of the Banka and Billiton 
Strait, where they arrive about the commencement of May. 
Their fleet is separated into small divisions, which hasten to 
commit their depredations upon the eastern coast of Sumatra, 
as far as Reteh, in the waters of Linga and Bintang, and 
amid the groups of islets which reach as far as Cape 
Romania. Towards the month of June the pirates generally 
unite together at Poeloe Tingi, where they seize many of 
the vessels belonging to Pahang, Trenganoe, Kembodja, and 

258 Weapons df Warfare 

Kelambang in the Peninsula of Malacca. In September 
and October they quit these latitudes in order to retire 
to their haunts. During their return they still find time 
enough for plundering the coasts of the Isles of Siantan, 
Poeloe Laut and Tammelan. 

"The largest kind of prahus are defended by double 
nettings, and have from 50 to 80 men on board. They 
have two rows of oars, each of 30, and are armed at the 
head with 2 powerful guns of from 6 to 8, besides 6 or 8 
lilla or swivels." 

In another place he says : " Under the name of Lanouns, 
we include the pirates of Magindano, Suloo, and some places 
in the neighbourhood of Borneo, as Tuwara, Tumbassa, 

"No fewer than 100 vessels are fitted out at Magindano 
and Suloo, 50 at Tuwara, 20 at Tumbassa and 20 at 
Mangkabo \j,e, Tuaran, Tempassuk, Mengkabong] ; 5 or 6 
are actually sent out from Sumroka to Borneo, properly 
so called [/>. the territories of the state of Brunei], near 
Tanjong Datoe." 

A few other quotations from correspondence to be found 
in these papers may also be of interest : — 

"Subsequent to the departure of her Majesty's ship 
Samarang from Brune in the month of October 1844, one 
of the first measures of the Raja Muda Hassim, on assuming 
the reins of Government, was an intimation to Sheriff 
Hausman of Malludu [or Marudu] and to the Illanuns of 
Tempassuk of his treaty with her Majesty's Government 
for the suppression of piracy, warning them to desist, and 
ordering them on no account to visit or to trade with Brune 
whilst they continued to pirate." 

[Mr Brooke to the Earl of Aberdeen 

Singapore, 7,1st March 1845.] 

" The pirates on the coast of Borneo ^lay be classed into 

those who make long voyages in large heavy-armed prahus. 

Weapons ^ Warfare 259 

such as the lllanuns, Balanigni, etc., and the Hghter Dyak 
fleets which make short but destructive excursions in swift 
prahus. . . . 

*'The next pirate horde we meet with is a mixed com- 
munity of Illanuns and Bajows (or sea gipsies), located at 
Tempassuk, a few miles up a small river [possibly the 
Pindasan]. They are not formidable in number, and their 
depredations are chiefly committed on the Spanish territory. 
They might readily be dispersed and driven back to their 
own country, and the Dusuns or villagers (as the name 
signifies) might be protected and encouraged." 

(Memorandum with the above) 

The Bornean pirates were largely put down in the years 
1844 to 1849 ^y ^^^ E. Belcher in command of H.M.S. 
Samarang and Captain the Hon. H. Keppel in command of 
the Dido^ but in the Return of Bounties paid for the Capture 
and Destruction of Pirates in the same papers there is an 
entry of Illanun pirates, subjects of the Sultan of Sulu, being 
captured off Trengganu by H.M.S. Wolf 3ls early as 1839, 
while the taking of Malay pirates, some of whom may have 
been Illanuns, is recorded as early as 1837. Keppel was 
afterwards Admiral, and till his death a Director of the 
British North Borneo Company. He gave his name to 
Province Keppel. Much good work in suppressing piracy 
was also done by the Dutch, but this was chiefly elsewhere 
than on the north-west coast of Borneo. 

In 1846 vigorous action was taken against the pirates in 
the Tempassuk, as is set forth in the journal of Captain 
Mundy (^Events in Borneo^ Celebes^ and Labuan)^ who was in 
charge of the /r/V, which together with the Agincourt, the 
Hazard^ the Phlegethon^ the Spiteful^ the Dcsdalus^ the 
Ringdove and the Royalist took part in the expedition, Rear- 
Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane, who had hoisted his flag on 
the Agincourt^ being in command. This fleet, after dealing 
with the Dyak pirates in Sarawak and capturing the city of 

26o Weapons ^ Warfare 

Brunei, the Sultan of which had murdered all those of his 
relations who were friendly to the British, proceeded along 
what is now the coast of British North Borneo, and anchored 
near Gaya Island, at the mouth of the Mengkabong river, 
and at Ambong, at which place they found that the 
flourishing village, visited and described by Sir Edward 
Belcher only two months before, had been reduced to 
ashes by lUanun pirates in revenge for the help the in- 
habitants had afforded to the British by selling them cattle 
and provisions. 

On 30th July the squadron had arrived at Ambong. On 
the 31st, on rounding a promontory, a large prahu, which 
Mr Brooke, who was with the expedition, immediately 
recognised from its peculiar build to be a war-boat of the 
Illanuns, was seen pulling at top speed towards the Tem- 
passuk river, and chase was given. To quote Captain 
Mundy's own words : 

" The Phlegethon soon got between him and the shore, 
three boats were sent after him, and possession taken with- 
out resistance, for formidable as those pirates are, from 
their number and ferocity, no wonder they were appalled 
at the sight of the squadron now before them. The boat 
was sixty feet long, and carried one long twelve- 
pounder, and two brass six-pound swivels. She was rigged 
for sixty oars, with regular boarding nettings, but had 
only twenty men and the captain on board, the stern- 
sheets being occupied by a large bier, on which was placed 
a massive teak coffin, handsomely ornamented. When the 
chief was brought prisoner on the quarter-deck, and asked 
to what nation he belonged, and why he was so crowded 
with arms (she was full of kampelans — i.e. large double- 
handed swords — spears and krises), he said at once : 

" * I am an Illanun and a pirate chief. I sailed from hence 
with four other vessels on a cruise. One of the officers 
died, and with a portion of my crew I am now bringing him 
to his home for decent burial.' 

Weapons &^ Warfare 261 

" On being asked if the officer died a natural death, he 
replied: 'Yes.' 

" Orders were then given to open the coffin, when lo ! 
there lay the remains of a body evidently slain in battle, or 
after a desperate struggle, but a few days before. A large 
sabre-cut extended across the forehead, and the chest and 
thighs were also desperately maimed. The pirate chief now 
became so enraged at this exposure that he boldly stated 
he had told a lie, and admitted that they had had an engage- 
ment with some of the Balanini war-boats, which they had 
driven off, but an officer being killed, he was, according to 
their custom, brought back for interment. It was about 
this time that a Spaniard, who had been released from 
slavery by Sir Thomas Cochrane on his visit to Brune last 
year, and was now on board the Phlegethon^ recognised 
among the crew the man who had made him prisoner, and 
had murdered the master of the Spanish vessel to which he 
belonged, while resisting the pirates' attack : shortly after- 
wards on examining the prahu, two other Spaniards came 
forward, declaring that they had been taken off the Manilla 
coast, and had since been compelled to labour as slaves on 
board the pirate prahus." 

Captain Mundy then goes on to tell how, on an attempt 
being made to handcuff the lUanun chief, he, followed by 
all his people, jumped overboard, and attempted to gain the 
shore by swimming. They were, however, cut off and 
captured, and when brought aboard again were put in irons. 

On the same day the Admiral and Mr Brooke, " protected 
by the armed boats of the Agincourt^'^ went ashore and 
interviewed Sa Tabok, the lUanun raja. They reproached 
him for having broken the arrangements entered into the 
year before, and for attacking "the peaceful town of 
Ambong." He was finally given twenty-four hours to con- 
sider, being warned that if at the end of that time he and 
his chiefs did not come to the Aglncourt and give ample 
guarantees for their future good conduct, his village would 

262 Weapons ^ Warfare 

be attacked and destroyed. Sa Tabok admitted that he had 
broken his promises, but he would not say whether he 
would come to the Agincoiirt and give the pledges required. 

On the next day, no signs of submission being shown, 
Captain M'Quhae of the Dadalus^ with a force of two 
hundred and fifty seamen and marines, was " sent into the 
river, with orders to destroy the war boats and canoes, 
unless the chiefs oiFered terms of submission." They, how- 
ever, found the place deserted, so all the war canoes and the 
principal buildings were burned. While the burning was 
proceeding the Illanuns were seen in the distance " brandish- 
ing their spears in defiance, and the chiefs on horseback at 
the edge of the jungle slowly moving backwards and for- 
wards watching the ruin of their stately dwellings." But I 
should scarcely call " stately " a word which could be applied 
to any Illanun building. 

On the same day Captain Mundy was ordered to head 
another expedition to deal with the pirates of the Pandassan 
(Pindasan) river, ^'ten miles to the north-east of the 
Tempassuk," arrangements being made for the visit to 
be paid on the following day (2nd August). Starting at 
daylight in the Phlegethon (a steamer belonging to the 
Honourable East India Company), in which the commander- 
in-chief had hoisted the flag, and with the gun-boats of 
the Iris and Ringdove in tow, the expedition anchored oif 
the mouth of the Pindasan river, a notorious haunt of the 
pirates, at eight a.m. 

The expeditionary forces consisted of one hundred and 
fifty seamen and marines, " exclusive of the Javanese crew 
under Mr Ross." Pindasan town or village was reached in 
safety, and was found to have been evacuated by the in- 
habitants, who, however, had not had time to carry oif their 
"furniture." After sentries had been posted. Captain 
Mundy, the Admiral — who had joined the party at Pindasan 
— Lieutenant Vansittart and a body-guard penetrated some 
way into the surrounding country, and exchanged shots with 

Weapons &^ Warfare 263 

the enemy, a few of whom were killed during their retreat 
to the hilly ground. 

The idea had been that the Pindasan expedition should 
join hands with the forces on the Tempassuk river under 
Captain M'Quhae, but the ground being in a very bad state, 
owing to heavy rains, this plan was abandoned; so after 
burning every house in the town and destroying the war- 
boats in course of construction, one of which was a craft 
" fifty feet in length and beautifully built," the expedition 
returned to the Phlegethon and the same day the vessel 
returned to the mouth of the Tempassuk river and joined 
her consorts. 

On 3rd August the captured pirates were transferred to 
the Ringdove for passage to Manilla, where they were to be 
given up to the Spanish Governor, and the squadron weighed 
anchor and proceeded to the northward. In the afternoon 
of the same day three pirate prahus were discovered trying 
to make good their escape, and were chased by the Royalisfs 
boats, when after an engagement twenty of the pirates 
were killed and two of their prahus destroyed ; there were 
no casualties among the Royalisfs crew, owing to the 
pirates' bad aim, though the latter appear to have fought 

After this the squadron passes for a time out of the 
districts with which we are concerned to visit the stronghold 
of SheriiF Osman in Marudu Bay (destroyed the year 
before), with a view to seeing whether that piratical Arab 
had returned and rebuilt his stockades. Returning from 
Marudu Bay, where they had found Sheriff Osman's forti- 
fications still deserted, the Admiral set sail for China, accom- 
panied by the Dcedalus^ Ringdove and Royalist. 

Captain Mundy in the /m, with the Hazard and 
Phlegethon also under his command, left for Ambong, 
anchoring on the same evening (7th August) at Batu Mandi 
and dispatching Lieutenant Little in charge of a party in 
a pinnace and a cutter on a further expedition up the 

264 Weapons &^ Warfare 

Pindasan river. Little was successful in burning an Illanun 
village and had a brush with the pirates on the return 
journey. He also captured and destroyed an Illanun vessel, 
whose crew escaped to the shore. The expedition rejoined 
the Iris and the rest of the squadron at Ambong, which 
they had reached on the evening of the loth August. 

From this place sail was made for Kimanis, and thence to 
the Membakut river to punish a pirate and marauder, one 
Haji Saman. Having met with some success in dealing 
with this gentleman, Captain Mundy visited Brunei to keep 
alive the fear which Raja Brooke had inspired in the Sultan 
during a visit that he had paid to the country a short time 

Thence he again sailed for the Tempassuk district, calling 
in at Kimanis on the way, but was forced to make for 
Marudu Bay by a storm before he could visit "the 
piratical town of Sarang — only a few miles distant from the 
Bato Mande [Batu Mandi] rocks." Captain Mundy arrived 
in Marudu Bay on ist September and on 9th September 
anchored oiF Ambong again, after nine days of very bad 
weather, during which he made three unsuccessful attempts 
to carry out the projected expedition against Sarang, being 
on each occasion obliged to run for safety by gales from 
the south-west quarter. Considerable fears were felt for 
the safety of the Hazard, which had become separated from 
her consort, the Iris (the Phlegethon with Raja Brooke on 
board had left for Sarawak some time previously). How- 
ever, at daylight on 10th September the Hazard was seen 
in the ofEng and before noon she was safely anchored. 

News was obtained at Ambong that the Illanuns of Sarang, 
who had been joined by the fugitives from Pindasan and 
Tempassuk, despairing of being able to offer a successful 
resistance, had removed their families and goods, "and gone 
across the country to the district of Tungku, on the eastern 
shores of Borneo," whence presumably they returned at 
a later date. Having thus attained the object of the 

Weapons ^ Warfare 265 

expedition, in driving out the Illanuns, Captain Mundy 
sailed on other business to Kimanis and Brunei and did not 
again return to the Tempassuk district. He left Acheen 
Head, Sumatra, on 12th April 1847 ^^^ reached Spithead 
on 29th July of the same year. 

I have so far said very little about the methods of land- 
fighting formerly in vogue among the Illanuns and Bajaus, 
but as I have already dragged out this chapter to an uncon- 
scionable length, through giving what extracts I could find 
dealing with the subject of Illanun piracy, I will only add 
that, in the majority of cases, fighting of this kind no doubt 
consisted of unorganised raids on the weaker tribes of the 
interior, the burning of the upland villages, the killing of 
the majority of the menfolk and the seizure of the women 
and children as slaves, who might either be reserved for the 
use of their Bajau and Illanun masters or profitably sold to 
the princes and chiefs of Brunei, Sulu and Mindanao. 



I AM inclined to think, with regard to antiquities, that 
it is quite possible that some interesting finds may be 
awaiting the excavator in British North Borneo, though 
I do not mean to suggest that any large buildings or buried 
cities will reward his labours. From what I have seen of 
the Tempassuk district I should say that relics of ancient 
occupation are by no means uncommon. Though unfortun- 
ately I had but little time to devote to the excavation of the 
legendary sites of ancient villages or graves, I managed to 
do a little work on one hill-top which was reported to have 
been occupied in former days by a Dusun village. 

The most interesting collection of antiquities that I was 
able to make was one of stone implements. These, I believe, 
had not been reported previously from British North Borneo, 
though Dr Haddon had found one in Sarawak, and sub- 
sequently a fine collection of them was made by Dr Hose 
and presented to the Cambridge University Museum of 

The three stone implements from Sarawak figured by 
Ling Roth were, I believe, reported previously to this 
discovery ; but one of these, which is of palaeolithic type, 
was obtained from a dealer, and is doubtfully Bornean, 
while of the two others, which were found by Mr Hart 
Everett, one is from a bed of river gravel and appears to 
be of palaeolithic type, and the other, which was found in 
a cave, is a very rudely chipped object. All Dr Hose's 
specimens are of neolithic culture and are axe- or 

Thinking that if stone implements had been found in 


Antiquities 267 

Sarawak there was no reason why they should not occur 
in British North Borneo, I began to make inquiries among 
the natives, aided by a catalogue of the National Museum 
of Antiquities of Scotland which I happened to have by me. 
This contained a large number of illustrations of Scottish 
stone implements, and I soon found that I was on the track 
of what I wanted, for the natives recognised the illustra- 
tions as being pictures of stones similar to those known 
to them as " thunder teeth " (gigi guntor). These, they 
said, were found at the roots of coco-nut and other trees 
which had been struck by lightning. Disregarding this 
statement, as natives will, if there be a legend that stone 
implements are thunderbolts, persuade themselves that they 
found one which they possess under a tree which has been 
struck, I made a few further inquiries, but without result. 

One Sunday on going down to the Chinese shops as 
usual to see what up-country natives had come in, and to 
have a look at the cock-fighting, which was a weekly fixture 
on that day, I happened to see a Bajau draw out from his 
pocket something which I thought looked suspiciously like 
a stone implement, and rub the spurs of his fighting-cock 
with it. Calling up Keruak, the local Bajau chief, who 
happened to be in a shop close by, I asked him to get hold 
of the man and find out what sort of a stone he was using 
as a charm. On our taking the man on one side he very 
reluctantly produced a beautiful little axe-head made of a 
green stone, which looked very much like an inferior quality 
of jade. He told me that he did not like showing the 
stone to many people as it diminished its potency as a 
charm, and he absolutely refused to name a price for it. 

After this I set two or three men to hunt for me, and 
one of them brought me a very fine specimen, of which I 
was able to get a model made ; but here again the owner 
would not sell, although a very tempting price was offered. 
Subsequently when it became known in the villages that I 
was hunting for gigi guntor^ and offering large prices. 

268 Antiquities 

specimens began to be brought in for sale, some of the 
vendors saymg that their father or grandfather had seen 
a tree struck by lightning and had dug under it for the 
thunder tooth until he found it, and others, in the case 
of newly found specimens, generally telling me fairly 
enough that they had picked them up when working in 
their padi-fields ; that they had noticed them lying at 
the side of the track when riding along on their buffaloes ; 
or had seen them sticking out of a bank of earth the old 
face of which had fallen away. 

In all I managed to make a small collection of thirteen 
actual implements and two models, while I was lucky enough 
to find one small implement myself, which was lying on a 
bank of earth beside the bridle-path leading from Kotabelud 
to the steamer wharf in Usakan Bay. 

The material of which three of the implements are made 
is a green nephrite ; four are manufactured from a closely 
grained stone which is almost jet-black, and looks like some 
form of basalt, though the colour may be partly due to the 
specimens having been constantly rubbed and handled by 
the natives who found them ; while other three, and among 
them that which I found myself, are of local claystone, so 
soft that it makes it difficult to understand how they can 
ever have been really used as cutting instruments. The 
remaining two are made, one of quartz and the other of 
some kind of sandstone. 

Most of the implements may be classed as axe- or adze- 
heads of various types, but one of soft stone has a gouge- 
like form, and two implements and one model are very 
curious specimens, as they are axe-like in shape, but have 
a double-cutting (?) edge: what the use of these can 
have been it is very difficult to imagine. 

All stone implements are highly prized as charms. They 
are put into the padi store to keep the padi in good con- 
dition; water in which they have been soaked is given to 
sick persons to drink; swords are rubbed with them in 

Antiquities 269 

order to ensure their inflicting deadly wounds, and the 
spurs of fighting-cocks are similarly treated so that they 
may make deep wounds on the opposing bird. 

Apart from stone implements proper, I found that flakes 
of reddish-coloured radiolarian chert were common on all 
the foot-hills around Kotabelud. These in most cases had 
the bulb of percussion well developed, though the whole 
flake was generally somewhat rough, chert not giving such 
a nice clean fracture as English flint. In addition to a large 
number of " flakes " I was lucky enough to find one typical 
"core." This red chert, which is known to the natives as 
batu apt (fire-stone), is, in conjunction with a piece of steel, 
frequently used at the present day to strike a light. No 
attempt is made to dress the stone by chipping; either a 
piece of a convenient size is picked up from the ground, 
or, if none small enough can be found, a large stone is 
thrown against a boulder and the fragments collected, or 
pounded on a large boulder until it breaks in pieces. 

I was inclined to believe, in spite of the modern theories 
of the formation of natural flakes and cores by lightning 
and other agencies, that these specimens are artifacts, one 
of the main reasons for my belief being the regular flaking 
of the " core." Against my contention, however, there is 
the fact that I have never seen a true implement made from 
red chert, but this is by no means to say that they do not 

Before describing the small excavations I made at Tudu, 
a hill overlooking Usakan Bay and the Illanun villages about 
Fort Alfred, I should like to say a little about reported finds 
of ancient objects in the Tempassuk district. I frequently 
heard stories of natives coming across old jars half buried 
on the tops of the grass-covered foot-hills about Kotabelud, 
notably near the bridle-path which leads to Tuaran, and 
there seems to be no reason to doubt the statements, though 
I have never seen a specimen which has been obtained in 
this way. These may be old burial jars, but from the 

270 Antiquities 

descriptions given me they would seem to be too small to 
have been used for this purpose. Fragments of old celadon- 
ware are, however, not uncommonly to be met with around 
the bases of the foot-hills, and I have frequently picked 
them up myself. 

One Bajau who knew that I was interested in ancient 
objects told me that he and a companion had once found 
an ornament of twisted gold — from his description I imagine 
it to have been a sort of torque — in his padi-field. They 
had cut it in two and had each sold his half to the local 
goldsmith at the price by weight of old gold. On applica- 
tion to the goldsmith he confirmed the Bajau's story, but 
told me that he had melted the pieces down and used them 
for making new ornaments. 

Shortly before I left Borneo a report was brought to me 
that there was a rock not far from Kampong Piasau which 
bore the imprint of a gigantic foot, but as I was busy at 
the time I was unable to go and see whether it was a 
natural depression which happened somewhat to resemble 
a footprint or whether it was an artificial mark, such as I 
believe are sometimes found on rocks in Buddhist countries. 

With regard to the village site on the hill called Tudu, 
which I have mentioned above, my intention was first called 
to the place by Orang Kaya Haji Arsat, the head Govern- 
ment chief of the Tempassuk. He told me that it was 
reported that the hill-top had been occupied in former days 
by a Dusun village — that is, in the times before the invasion 
of the Tempassuk by Bajaus and Illanuns — and that there 
was a legend about the destruction of the village by a 
hurricane; further, that men who had climbed the hill in 
recent years had found its top strewn with fragments of 
the cooking-pots used by the ancient occupants. On asking 
one of my Dusun friends about the matter, I found that 
the legend of Tudu was well known, and obtained the 
following story from him. 

Long ago some men of Kampong Tudu were looking for 

Antiquities 271 

wood to make a fence, and while they were searching they 
came upon what appeared to be a great tree trunk, which 
was lying on the ground. They began to cut it with their 
working-knives, intending to make their fence from it, but 
to their surprise blood came from the cuts. So they decided 
to walk along to one end of the " trunk " and see what it 
was. When they came to the end they found that they 
had been cutting into a great snake, and that the end of the 
" trunk " was its head. They therefore made stakes and, 
driving them into the ground, bound the snake to them 
and killed it. They then flayed the skin from the body, 
and taking it and the meat home they made a great feast 
from its flesh. The skin of the snake they made into a 
great drum, and while they were drinking they beat the 
drum to try its sound, but for a long time it remained 
silent. At last, in the middle of the night, the drum 
began to sound of its own accord : " Duk^ Duk^ Kagu ; 
Duky Duky Kagu^"* (Kagu is Bajau for hurricane or 
typhoon). Then came a great hurricane and swept away 
all the houses in the village: some of them were carried 
out to sea together with the people in them ; others settled 
down at what is now Tempassuk village and other places, 
and from them arose the present settlements. 

Being interested in the tale, and thinking that there was 
very probably some truth in the story of a village on the 
hill-top, as it would be an almost impregnable site in war- 
time, I arranged with the Orang Kaya to make the climb, 
and a few days later started from Kotabelud with three or 
four Dusun coolies armed with changkuls (a kind of Chinese 
hoe). At Fort Alfred I met the Orang Kaya, accompanied 
by an Illanun follower, and we started a very long and hot 
climb up the sides of the hill, which were covered with 
lalang (a rough grass). 

On arrival at the top we at once saw that it would make 
a most admirable situation for a fort, as Tudu commands 
the whole of the surrounding country, and the hill-top is 

272 Antiquities 

sufficiently flat to accommodate easily a decent-sized village, 
though water seemed to be scarce. The most prominent 
objects on the hill were two immense memplum or impalum 
trees which were in fruit at the time. These were obvious 
signs that there either had been a village on the hill, or 
that people had visited the hill-top in bygone days. 

The next thing was to find a site for our excavations, and 
after searching for profitable ground for a short time by 
uprooting tussocks of lalang and inspecting the soil below 
them, I decided that one place, where the humus was very 
black, and where two or three pieces of rough pottery were 
found near the surface, was most probably ground on which 
a house had stood. In this opinion I was speedily confirmed, 
as on driving two intersecting trenches, about two and a half 
feet deep, at right angles across the site we came upon many 
fragments of rough pottery, broken bones of animals — 
chiefly pigs — and large numbers of sea-shells of species 
related to the clam and English cockle. 

In addition to these we found four objects of much 
greater interest : one a water-rounded stone of granite with 
a diameter of about three and a half inches, which the 
Dusun cooHes said would be probably used for smoothing 
the inside of cooking-pots during the process of manufacture ; 
another an almost circular pebble of sandstone of slightly 
less diameter than the " potting-stone." This was flattened 
on either side and had an artificially made indentation in the 
centre of each flattened surface. Worked stones, some- 
times completely perforated, sometimes with only two 
chiselled or drilled depressions, as in the above case, are 
frequently found in England associated with other articles 
of neolithic culture. Such stones were probably used as 
hammers, those with a hole having had a wooden handle 
pushed through them, and those with depressions only 
being held in the hand, the depressions aflbrding a firm grip 
for the thumb and the index finger. It is possible that the 
bored stones may have been used as club-heads — c,f, the 

Antiquities 273 

stone club-heads of New Guinea. I am inclined to think 
that the stone from Tudu may have been used for this 
purpose, as one edge is much chipped. 

The remaining objects of interest were a couple of pieces 
of Chinese crackle-ware, one, which looked like a fragment 
of a small plate, being of the colour which is known as 
caledon, the other, which the natives seemed to think was 
a fragment of a Gusi jar, being greenish brown in colour, 
rather thick, with a very fine crackle. Unfortunately I had 
no time to excavate the place systematically, as it was with 
difficulty that I was able to devote even a day to the work. 
I may remark here that the Dusun coolies said that the 
fragments of rough pottery which we dug up were of 
different consistency to that now in use. 

The only other ancient site I visited was far up-country 
on the bridle-path to the Interior. This place, which is 
some little way beyond the Singaran halting-bungalow 
(opposite Kiau), is an earthwork on the side of the hill, and 
as far as can now be seen consists of a trench about sixty feet 
long, with a corresponding mound on the valley side of it. 
The mound has been almost destroyed in making the bridle- 
path, but the trench is still fairly clearly defined. 

The Dusuns tell the following legend about the place : — 
Once long ago there was a very tall man named Lamongoyan, 
who could cross a river at a single stride. He died on the top 
of the hill above this spot, and his people being unable to lift 
his body rolled it down to the grave they had dug, and 
buried him there. His head lies pointing inland and his feet 
towards the sea. 




THE Statement is frequently made by residents in 
Borneo that the Dusuns are "half Chinese," and 
the same assertion is not uncommonly to be met 
with in books. Ling Roth, for instance, in his map of 
British North Borneo has printed in red letters across the 
whole coastal region of North- West Borneo from Brunei 
Bay to Marudu Bay, including the Tuaran and Tempassuk 
districts: "Mixed Chinese and Native Tribes" (Natives 
of Sarawak and British North Borneo, vol. i., and The British 
North Borneo Herald, ist July 1914). Now definite state- 
ments of this kind should not be made unless there is very 
good evidence to show that they are true. I believe that 
the theory of the " half-Chinese " origin of these tribes first 
arose from a supposed reference made to the Chinese in 
certain Bornean names, and from legends of a former Chinese 
invasion of this part of the island. 

As I had long been annoyed by the constant reiteration 
of these statements, which rested, to my thinking, on no 
suflEcient basis of evidence, I wrote, some time ago, a letter 
to The British North Borneo Herald, setting out the argu- 
ments in favour of the Chinese theory, dealing with them 
as thoroughly as I could, and at the same time asking for any 
help from those interested in the subject which might tend 
to throw hght upon the question and, if possible, settle it in 
one way or another. This letter of mine ran as follows : — 

Taiping, Perak, 
Federated Malay States, 
4/^ June 1 9 14. 
Sir, — I am writing to you to ask whether any of your 
readers would be kind enough to help me in a small invest!- 


The Chinese in Borneo 275 

gation which I am making as to the past history of British 
North Borneo. 

In many accounts of Borneo it has been stated that there 
has been a large infusion of Chinese blood among the 
aborigines of the northern portions of the island, some 
writers even going so far as to say that the Dusuns are 
half Chinese. I am much inclined to think that their con- 
clusions have been reached by a very slipshod process of 
reasoning, and that no large admixture has ever taken place. 
The following statements are, I believe, generally advanced 
in support of the theory, and I will endeavour to deal with 
them seriatim : — 

(i) That the Dusuns use hats and ploughs similar to 
those of the Chinese. 

(2) That the men of one Dusun tribe wear a pigtail. 

(3) That the Dusuns look rather like Chinese. 

(4) That there are accounts of Chinese embassies being 

sent to Brunei. 

(5) That there is a legend of a Chinese expedition going 

in search of the jewel guarded by the dragon, which 
was supposed to live at the top of Mount Kinabalu ; 
and that a party of Chinese, who were left behind? 
settled in the country. 

(6) That old Chinese jars, beads and fragments of ancient 

Chinese pottery are common in Borneo. 

(7) That several names of mountains, villages and rivers 

begin with Kina, and that this means "China" 
(i^) Now with regard to the first statement, both the 
conical sun-hat and the same type of plough are used by 
the Malays, and I also believe by the Javanese and Siamese, 
whom I have never heard accused of being half Chinese. 
The plough and the sun-hat may have been adopted from 
the Chinese, but it seems to me extremely risky to say 
because one race, tribe or nation has borrowed from the 
culture of another with whom they have been in contact. 

276 The Chinese in Borneo 

that, therefore, there has been a fusion of blood. I have 
seen several most excellent copies of European straw hats 
made by the Dusuns, and going on the above assumption, 
if the wearing of these should become general, one might 
almost as well say that there was a large strain of European 
blood among the Dusuns. Or again, reasoning thus, why not 
say that the Chinese are half European, since Chinese boot- 
makers now turn out boots made in the European fashion ? 

(jid) The men of one Dusun tribe wear a pigtail. I have 
never seen this tribe, so I do not know if their pigtails 
resemble those of the Chinese. A pigtail is, however, one 
very convenient method of doing up long hair, and is, I 
believe, not confined to the Chinese. Moreover, even if it 
has been adopted from the Chinese, this does not necessarily 
mean that the Dusuns are half Chinese, though it would prove 
that there had been a strong Chinese influence in the country. 

(3^) It is stated that the Dusuns look like Chinese, but I 
must say that I have never been able to see much similarity. 
I do not, however, contest the fact that there is a certain 
MongoUan element present among the Dusuns, as, I believe, 
there is among all the Indonesian peoples, this seeming to be 
fairly well proved by the occurrence of lank, straight hair, and 
occasionally of the typical Mongolian fold over the inner 
corner of the eye. What I do believe, however, is that 
the Mongolian element is not of comparatively modern — i,c. 
Chinese — origin, but that it was probably introduced before 
the Indonesian race left Southern Asia for its present home. 

{4.0) The accounts of Chinese writers, translations of which 
I have read, do not seem to indicate anything further than 
that embassies were sent to Brunei and vice versa, and that 
Chinese trading junks used to make regular voyages to barter 
the manufactures of China for the produce of the jungle, and 
probably, in South- Western Borneo, for gold and diamonds. 

(5^) The story of the dragon seems to come to us from 
Chinese or Malay sources, and I have not heard of it among 
the Dusuns, though it may be known; nor have I ever 

The Chinese in Borneo 277 

heard the Dusuns of the Tempassuk claim descent from the 
Chinese. The legend, which has a distinctly apocryphal 
flavour about it, is mentioned by both Dalrymple and Earl, 
and the latter in referring to it says : " The Chinese suppose 
the Dyaks to be descended from a large body of their 
countrymen left by accident upon the island, but this opinion 
is entertained solely on the faith of a Chinese legend. 
[Pigafetta states that at the time of his visit there were 
30,000 Chinese living in the town of Brunei, but his 
accounts of the place are probably much exaggerated.] If 
they can prove their paternity to the Dyaks, they must ex- 
tend it to the whole race inhabiting the interior of the large 
islands of the Archipelago [/>. Indonesians]." Evidently 
Earl did not consider that there was much probabihty of 
truth in the account. 

(6a) Old Chinese jars and other objects are certainly 
common in Borneo, but I take it that this does not necessarily 
indicate anything further than that the Chinese have been 
trading with Borneo for many hundreds of years. There 
were, at the time of my residence in Borneo, about seven- 
teen Chinese shops in the Tempassuk, and these were ample 
for the amount of trade in the district. Supposing in the 
old days — when foreign articles were probably much rarer 
in Borneo than they are at present, trade much less than 
to-day, and life much more insecure — that the same number 
of Chinese traders inhabited the district : are we to consider 
that they would leave any permanent trace on the native 
population ? No. If there ever was any large Chinese popu- 
lation, it must have been employed in mining or agriculture, 
probably the former. But have we anything to prove that 
such a population ever existed in the Dusun country ? 

(ya) Now, sir, we come to the last statement, and it is 
with regard to this in particular that I wish to enlist your 
readers' help. The usual examples given of names which 
indicate the presence of the Chinese in Borneo are 
"Kinabalu" and " Kinabatangan." If Kina really does 

278 The Chinese in Borneo 

mean China or Chinese, this again by no means necessarily 
shows that the Chinese ever came to the country in large 
numbers as colonists. Who gave the mountain its name ? 
Most likely the Dusuns, since they appear to be the oldest 
inhabitants of the country at the present day. Unfortun- 
ately I do not know Dusun, and so I cannot trace for myself 
the meaning of the word in that language, if a meaning exists 
other than that of " Chinese Widow Mountain." I have, 
however, long had my suspicions that the accepted explana- 
tion was not correct, and have thought that it was probably 
one of those rather clever, but badly mistaken derivations 
which Malay pundits are such adepts at manufacturing — 
e.g. Singapura, the City of the Lion ; Sumatra, Semut Raya. 

Recently I have come across another explanation of the 
name of the mountain, which I am inclined to think much 
more probable. Kinabalu, according to Dusun legendry, is 
the home of departed spirits, and Witti says that the spirits 
of the dead are supposed to bathe in the waters which rush 
from the gullies of the mountain and which are called 
" Tatsi di Nabalu." Hatton continually speaks of Nabalu, 
and not of Kinabalu, and in a recent article in The Sarawak 
Gazette^ by Mr J. C. Moulton, the suggestion is put forward 
that Nabalu means the home of the dead — "Nabalu, the 
Dusun word, signifying resting-place of the dead." It is 
true enough that Kinabalu is supposed to be the resting- 
place of the dead, but does Nabalu mean home of the dead ? 
Perhaps someone who is learned in Dusun can help me. It 
is worth noting, however, that the mountain is very frequently 
spoken of as Nabalu or Habalu, which appears rather as if 
the Ki were merely some form of prefix. 

The name Kinabatangan presents more difficulties, as the 
central part of it looks very much like the Malay word 
batang (trunk or water-course), which is often attached to 
the names of rivers — e.g, Batang Lupar, Batang Pahang. 
How are we to read it, Ki-nabatang-an or Kina-batang-an ? 
The supposition that Ki^ Kin or Kina may be prefixes is, I 

The Chinese in Borneo 279 

think, rather strengthened by the following North Borneo 
names, which all begin with one or other of these syllables, 
while in some it would be difficult to say that there was any 
reference to China or Chinese : — 

(i) Kinoram (a district near Marudu). 

(2) Kinabalu (sometimes called Penelab, and Kampong 

in the Tempassuk district). 

(3) Kinataki (a river in the Tempassuk district). 

(4) Kinsiraban (the name of an up-country village). 

(5) Kinokop (Pinokop or Tenokop, a river in the 

Tempassuk district). 

(6) Kinharingan (or Kenaringan, the name of the 

Dusun creator). 

(7) Kimanis (the name is said to be derived from Kayu 

Manis, but I should think that this is doubtful). 

Perhaps the prefix is either Ki, Kin or Kina^ according 
to the requirements of euphony. 

I believe that there are several rather strong supporters 
of the Chinese population theory in the British North 
Borneo Service, and I should be very glad if they, and 
others, would give me any fresh facts either in support of, 
or in opposition to, the theory. Moreover, I should be 
particularly thankful for any information bearing on the 
derivation of the names in which reference to the Chinese 
is thought to occur. So far the subject has been but little 
dealt with in a critical manner, and it would be interesting 
if the matter could be thrashed out to a conclusion, be my 
views right or wrong. I am, sir, yours obediently, 

Ivor H. N. Evans. 
To The Editor, 
The British North Borneo Herald^ 

My queries and questionings resulted in four most interest- 
ing letters being received in answer. One of these, from 
Mr E. O. Rutter, then District Officer, North Keppel, 
appeared on pp. 136 and 137 of The British North Borneo 

2 8o The Chinese in Borneo 

Herald of the year 1 9 1 4 ; another, from Mr J. C. Moulton, 
Curator, Sarawak Museum, in The British North Borneo 
Herald of 3rd November of the same year ; the other two 
— one from Mr E. H. Stephens of Padas Valley Estate, 
Beaufort, British North Borneo, and the other from the 
Rev. Father Duxneuney of the Roman Catholic Mission, 
Putatan — were addressed to me privately. 

Mr Stephens' letter deals entirely with statements Nos. 1 
and 7 of my letter. He informs me that the tribe of Dusuns 
who wear a queue are those of Bundu, on the coast of the 
Klias Peninsula. It is worn by young men, who cut it off 
on becoming fathers of families. He goes on to state that 
the tribe shows " undoubted traces of Chinese influence 
— e,g, their feast days coincide with the Chinese New Year, 
and other festivals " — and remarks that they seem to have a 
hazy tradition of a former Chinese connection. Further- 
more, he remarks that since the Chinese have discarded the 
pigtail it is losing its popularity in Bundu. He thinks that, 
as these Dusuns live on the coast, the infusion of Chinese 
blood " is likely to have been both recent and local." 

With regard to the meaning of the name Kinabalu he 
says: "Not being satisfied with the usually accepted 
derivation of the name Kinabalu, I have questioned Dusuns 
from districts in the vicinity and have been told that Nabalu 
does not mean * home of the dead,' the spirit being said to 
^ mengalau Nahulu^ mengalau apparently being a special word 
to describe the journeying of the spirit after death. With 
regard to the prefix Ki I can obtain no information." He 
sums up by saying that he thinks that the supporters of the 
Chinese theory will have great difiiculty in proving how a 
Chinese population, which is by some writers considered to 
have left its mark on large sections of the present native 
population of Borneo, "vanished and left such flimsy 
evidence of its existence." 

Mr Rutter's letter from The British North Borneo Herald 
I give below in extenso : 

The Chinese in Borneo 281 

To The Editor, 
British North Borneo Herald, 


British North Borneo, 
3U^>/); 1914. 

Chinese Names in Borneo 
Sir, — Your correspondent, Mr I. H. N. Evans, made some 
queries in your issue of i st July as to the meaning of the 
prefix Ki^ Kin and Ki?ia found in names in British North 
Borneo. I do not beUeve that this prefix has anything to do 
with China or Chinese, and offer the following explanation : — 
The prefix is almost invariably confined to names of gods, 
mountains and rivers, and I suggest that it is the Dusun 
and Murut word aki, meaning grandfather or ancestor; the 
original names were Aki Nabalu, Aki Nabatangan, Aki 
Langalangah, etc., and the a of aki has come to be 
dropped by ellipse: that this is not postulating too much 
may be shown by the example of the word Kinaringan (the 
name of the Dusun deity), which is also pronounced Akina- 
ringan by the Dusuns. Na is itself a prefix which constantly 
occurs in the Dusun and Murut languages, sometimes denot- 
ing a past participle ( = Malay her)^ sometimes interrogatory 
(nakito ku - do you see ? ) and in other cases apparently for 
the sake of euphony. 

The word nabalu in Dusun means widowed, without a 
partner (W« = widow or widower). The most striking thing 
about the mountain is its splendid isolation, and it is not 
beyond the ingenuity of a Dusun to give it some such name 
as "the Solitary Father," Aki Nabalu. I do not think 
that Nabalu means the home of departed spirits as suggested 
by Mr J. C. Moulton. It is true that the Dusuns believe 
that their spirits go to " Nabalu," but Nabalu is only the 
name of the place (or person) that receives them, just as 
Paradise and Hades do not in themselves mean resting-places 
of the dead, but are only names for those resting-places. 
Take next Kilangalangah (a mountain in the Ulu 

282 The Chinese in Borneo 

Labuk), where there is no euphonic na^ and we have Aki 
Langalangah with the simple prefix Ki^ the a as usual being 
dropped by ellipse. In Kinataki (a river which rises in 
Mount Kinabalu) the aki appears to be duplicated. The 
sense of aki is again well shown in Kinapunan (^pu7ian = 
Malay pokod (sic), lit, tree, and hence fountain, source, 
origin), the name the Muruts of the Keningan district give 
their deity. The prefix is also to be met with in Kinasaluan, 
a tributary of the Talankai in the far interior, and in Kinantu- 
pong, a tributary of the Sugut : neither of these names is 
likely to be due to Chinese influence. 

With regard to Kinabatangan, there is one great objection 
to the derivation Kina Batang, for to mean " the Chinese 
river" the adjective should follow the noun and the name 
should be Batang Kina. Batang (I believe) has the same 
significance in Dusun and in Murut as in Malay, and I 
suggest that the name is aki-na-batangan — the Father River, 
an appropriate term for a river with many tributaries or anak 

That this theory of personification is not wholly fanciful 
may be shown by parallels among other nations. Compare 
Father Tiber, Father Thames, Father Zeus. I cannot 
recall an instance of a mountain being endowed with the 
name of father, but it does not need much imagination to 
suppose that a race who live under the shadow of a great 
mountain could believe that they were under its paternal 
and supernatural care. After all. Mount Kinabalu, glinting 
in the morning sunlight, is probably the most wonderful thing 
that an up-country Dusun has ever seen. Your obedient 
servant, (Signed) E. O. Rutter, 

Mr J. C. Moulton in his letter to The British North 
Borneo Herald makes the interesting suggestion that Ki, 
Ka or K in place-names, etc. (examples Kadamaian, Kalupis, 
Kiau, Klowat, Kappak, Kinataki, Kinabalu, Kaung, Kudat, 
Kaningau, Kimanis), may be the local equivalent of the 

The Chinese in Borneo 283 

Sarawak S which is so commonly found as the first letter of 
names in that country (examples : Sadong, Samarahan, Segu, 
Simanggang, Sabu, Skrang, Sentah, etc., etc.). He thinks 
that 5 in place-names may be equivalent to the Si which 
is often used before names of persons of some standing. 
Si is possibly equivalent to the Malay incbe = sir or Mr. 

He asks Mr Rutter to make sure that balu is used for both 
widow and widower among the up-country Dusuns, remark- 
ing that "It is quite possible that Dusuns, especially those 
of the coasts, have now followed the Malays in using the 
word balu for both widow and widower." He suspects 
that closer inquiry among the hill Dusuns will reveal a 
different word for widower, as in Kayan, Kenyah, Kalabit 
and others of the more primitive languages. He further 
remarks that we cannot pass the anomaly " Grandfather- 
Widow " as a translation of the name Kinabalu, but this 
of course would only be the case if Mr Rutter were right 
in his supposition that Ki is equivalent to Aki (grandfather) 
and that balu only means widow and not widower. 

He further says: "Although the balance of opinion 
appears to be adverse to that of Chinese influence we should 
not dismiss it too summarily, as Chinese intercourse with 
North Borneo has been fairly regular for about twelve cen- 
turies. There is little doubt that small colonies of Chinese 
have settled well in the interior from time to time. 

"Spenser St John, writing in 1858, says: 'To show how 
extensively the Chinese formerly spread over the country 
I may notice that they had pepper plantations even up the 
Madihit as late as the remembrance of some of the oldest 
Murut ! ' The Madihit is a branch of the Limbang river, 
some seventy miles south of Brunei. Some three years ago 
I visited the actual place mentioned by St John, but no 
amount of inquiry showed that the natives of that part had 
ever heard of Chinese in their district. On the other 
hand, there can be little doubt that the natives of that 
part exhibit now some evidence of this former Chinese 

284 The Chinese in Borneo 

influence, probably many glaring proofs, if the traveller 
only knows the natives (and Chinese) well enough to 
distinguish between what are obviously non-Chinese and 
what are obviously foreign to that Borneo tribe (j/V). 

" It may be of interest to your first correspondent on this 
subject (vide British North Borneo Herald^ p. 100) that 
I found a small rectangular wooden box in a Dusun house 
on Kinabalu, which was used by the owner as a pillow. 
The Dusuns appeared surprised to hear that it was identical 
in shape with that used by the Chinese for the same 
purpose. Of course it may easily have been copied from 
one purchased a generation or two back in a Chinese 
bazaar on the coast; on the other hand, there is just the 
possibility of it forming an interesting piece of evidence 
of a much older and more intimate Chinese influence. 

" The question of whether ' Nabalu ' actually means ' the 
resting-place of the dead' (see Mr Rutter's letter), or 
is only ' the name given to the place that receives them,' 
reminds us of the old problem, 'which appeared first, the 
egg that produced the hen, or the hen that laid the 

egg? ..." 

Now to take the letter from Father Duxneuney, which 
is by far the most interesting communication of those which 
I have received privately, or have been published as the 
result of my letter to the Herald^ since I believe that he 
has solved once and for all the question of Bornean names 
in which it has so far been customary to consider there is 
a reference to the Chinese. 

Father Duxneuney has lived among the Dusuns of 
Putatan as a missionary for many years, since 1893, ^^^ 
as he, apart from his oflEcial labours, takes great interest 
in all matters concerning native belief and customs, his 
opinion should carry great weight. 

I will take first that part of his letter which deals with 
the question of Bornean names which are thought to refer 
to the Chinese. He remarks that the Dusuns of Putatan 

The Chinese in Borneo 285 

always call that majestic mountain, which is supposed by 
them to receive the spirits of the dead, Nabahu or Nabalu 
(see also remarks in my letter to the Herald)^ and that 
when he first went to that place nobody understood the word 
Kinabalu. He also tells me that at Putatan 1 ^nd h are inter- 
changeable — e,g, " here we say hcwiin (house), a few villages 
higher up it becomes lamin,'*^ This is well worth noting, 
as it has an important bearing on what follows in his letter. 

He goes on to say that when a person dies the body 
is washed and then taken out of the room and laid on the 
verandah. Here a kind of hut is built over the corpse, 
which is covered with very old and costly cloths. "This 
hut in called bahu — house of the dead." The cloths them- 
selves are also termed bahu^ and Father Duxneuney remarks 
that bahu thus comes to get a secondary meaning of 
pertaining to the dead." 

He divides up the word Kinabalu in this fashion, Ki-na- 
balu (or bahu). With regard to the na^ he agrees with 
Mr Rutter in saying that it is a common Dusun prefix often 
denoting past time, or rather denoting an action as past 
but still existing. A'/, he says, is an abbreviation of the 
Dusun kiwao — it is, it was, there is. He thus roughly 
translates Kinabalu as follows : — " There is a place or 
home pertaining to the dead." To illustrate the use of 
the two prefixes Ki and na in conjunction he gives these 
examples : 

(i) Matai (I die), kapalazan (death, subst.), ki-na- 
palazan (the continuation of the death of a person). 
" For instance," says Father Duxneuney, " for one 
dies now to-day, one says napatai (he died) ; but 
to say that his death occurred a week ago we use 
Kinapalazan dan san minggo iyohu,^^ 
(2) Mernehobang (to bury), hobongan (a burial), kohobongan 
(a burial ground). *' If I want to mention a burial 
of some time ago — long past — I have to twist my 
tongue to kinapomohobangan (ki here means ' there is ' 

2 86 The Chinese in Borneo 

— na denotes the past time — po7nohobong =^to be 
made buried) is the passive from memehobang to 

Father Duxneuney considers that Kinabatangan is the 
Malay word hatang " Dusunised " ; thus, I suppose, Ki-na- 
batang-an may be roughly translated the place where there 
is (and was from times past) a hatang-an or main river. 

He furthermore gives much interesting information with 
regard to the Chinese in Borneo. This summarised is as 
follows : — The plough was formerly not used by the lowland 
Dusuns (Kadasan) of Putatan, and there are still natives 
alive who can remember when all land was prepared by 
hand. Hats of any kind are little worn, the head-cloth 
being the covering most in use. The hats are worn by the 
women at harvest, and on the occasion of a marriage a 
conical hat which is worn by the boy (bridegroom) is taken 
off his head by the priestess and placed on that of the bride. 
These hats are manufactured by the hill people. Jars, 
gongs and guns were mostly introduced from Brunei and 
thus, " if Chinese, came only indirectly to the native." 

Father Duxneuney, however, tells me the Chinese had a 
great (commercial) influence amongst the natives in former 
times, before Labuan and North Borneo ''came under 
Britain's commerce." He says that when he first came to 
Putatan (1893) there were only a few Chinamen in the 
interior. If I understand his letter rightly, these went up 
to trade from their shops at the Government post. He 
remarks that the whole trade of the country was in Chinese 
hands (this is still true of all retail trade throughout the 
country). "Everything I had," he says, "from a glass tumbler 
to a British North Borneo dollar, from a piece of cloth to 
my newspaper. The Tablet, was in their eyes made in China. 

"How great was the influence which the Chinese had 
as traders is illustrated by the following incident which 
happened here only last year. A little native girl, about 
twelve years old, and a schoolmate were looking at an 

The Chinese in Borneo 287 

illustrated Bible history — they were unconscious that I was 
near. I heard one of them remark about a picture of Adam 
and Eve driven out of Paradise : ' It is rather bad that they 
go without clothing — only some leaves.' The twelve-year- 
old lady answered : * Yes, but at that time there were no 
Chinamen.' She was quite serious, and evidently thought : 
I no Chinaman, no shop to buy clothes at." 
I Father Duxneuney points out that the Putatan Dusuns 
jhave a legend that one of the hills in the district was 
originally near Kinabalu (Nabahu), but moved thence to its 
present position. He thinks that this may perhaps be taken 
as evidence that the Putatan Dusuns originally came down 
from the hill country around Kinabalu. 

Though admitting, as I do, that the Chinese have long 
had great influence in Borneo as traders, he propounds the 
following problems for solution by those who believe that 
there was formerly such a large resident Chinese population* 
in Borneo that many of the native tribes, and especially the 
Dusuns, are half Chinese : — 

(i) ^^ Language. — There is not the least similarity 
between Dusun and Chinese. Old Chinamen who 
have lived in the country for twenty years or more 
and have married Dusun wives never acquire the 
Dusun language — not to say master it. [A China- 
man who goes to a foreign country when he is already 
grown up seems seldom to master the native language. 
The China-born Chinese of the Straits and Borneo 
rarely acquire any fluency in speaking Malay, and 
when they do, invariably mispronounce very badly. 
Native-born Chinese of Borneo and the Straits 
acquire the language of the country without 
difficulty.] The latter has a very intricate grammar 
(something like Greek) and an enormous vocabulary. 
There is no trace in the Dusun language of 
Chinese influence." 
(2) " Why is there no trace of any written language ? By 

2 88 The Chinese in Borneo 

the born trading instinct of the supposed progenitors 
of the Dusun one would expect that at least numerals 
would have been transmitted to their offspring." 

(3) " No traces of reverence for ancestors or parents are 

found among the Dusuns, worship or reverence of 
this kind being essentially a Chinese characteristic." 

(4) There seems to be no mention of the Chinese in 

native legendry. 

I think that I have now dealt fairly with the greater part 
of the correspondence which appeared in The British North 
Borneo Herald in answer to my original letter. On re-visiting 
Borneo in 191 5 I resolved to try and investigate the matter 
further in the Tempassuk, proceeding chiefly on the lines 
suggested by Father Duxneuney. 

Mr Rutter stated in his letter to the Herald that balu 
means widow or widower in Dusun (presumably in the 
dialect of Tuaran or of the Tempassuk). I therefore put 
questions to Gumpus of Tambatuan, in the Tempassuk 
district, asking him what he would call a man whose wife 
was dead, and a woman whose husband was dead, being 
careful to avoid the use of the Malay word balu. He gave 
me the two words opus and na-poud (the latter apparently 
a past participle (?) widowed), which he said were applied 
either to a widow or a widower. A Tuaran native similarly 
questioned gave me na-poud only. 

The Dusuns of Tuaran seem to speak of the mountain 
more frequently as Pengaluan (the name Pengaluan is, I 
find, mentioned by Whitehead) than as Nabalu, but this is 
obviously a noun of the same derivation (formed as in 
ordinary Malay), the b being dropped for the sake of 
euphony {balu^ pen- or peng-balu-an^ Pengaluan). Simi- 
larly the special word which Mr Stephens says is used of 
the ghosts ascending Nabalu, which he gives as mengalau^ 
but which is in the Tempassuk pronounced mengalu^ 
obviously also comes from the same source, the b again- 
being dropped owing to the difficulty of saying meng-balu. 

The Chinese in Borneo 289 

Direct questioning of a Tuaran Dusun as to whether any 
objects used at burials or lyings-in-state had the term balu 
applied, procured the information that the Gusi jar which 
was sometimes placed near a corpse was called pen-a-haluk 
(the k was pronounced very distinctly). A Dusun of 
the Interior (a Tambunan man) told me that halu meant 
newly buried, and he and a Piasau (Tempassuk) man both 
gave me to understand that Pengaluan and Nabalu (or 
Kinabalu) mean the place where the dead go to. 

With regard to the na in Nabalu (or Ki-na-balu), I 
obtained several more place-names in which this syllable 
occurs ; in the case of one, Penabalu or Kinabalu, which I 
have already mentioned in my letter to The British North 
Borneo Herald, I was told that the name was derived from 
the fact that there was (or used to be) some sort of a hole 
or cave near the village which had both an entrance and an 
exit, and through this a river flowed. Na-Iabu, I under- 
stand from my Dusun informant, might be roughly trans- 
lated " it goes through " ; a man, for instance, being asked 
if a hole went right through from one side of a bank to the 
other, if it did, would reply : " JNa-Iabu,^^ 

Let us now consider the evidence which goes to show 
that, in general, so-called proofs of the half-Chinese origin 
of the Dusuns are of the flimsiest. 

With regard to the ploughs, hats, pillows, etc., used by 
the Dusuns, we may disregard them as proofs of a Chinese 
origin for the reasons set forth in my letter. 

(2) The Mongolian characteristics found among the 
Dusuns are common to all Indonesian peoples to a greater 
or lesser extent, and were probably chiefly acquired before 
they left the coasts of Asia. 

(3) It seems that Ki-na does not mean Chinese, na being 
a prefix signifying action past but still existing, which is 
common in place-names, and Ki, derived from Kiwao, mean- 
ing "there is" (Father Duxneuney). It is worthy of note, 
however, that the Dusuns and some other tribes in speaking 

290 The Chinese in Borneo 

Malay do talk of Orang Kina (Chinese), instead of Orang 
Cbina, which is the proper pronunciation, since they seem 
to have difficulty in pronouncing C/j, turning it generally 
either into K or .S — e.g. siramin for cbermin, sampur for 
champur. No doubt the coincidence that certain Dusun 
place-names begin with Ki-na and that Orang China was 
pronounced Orang Kina was eagerly seized on by Malay (or 
other) pundits, ignorant of the language of the country, but 
desirous of making derivation for place-names, and connecting 
them with romantic stories. 

One subject which I have not yet dealt wath calls, perhaps, 
for some attention, and that is the question of an admixture 
of Chinese with the Dusuns of the Klias Peninsula. I have 
not been able to investigate the matter for myself, but Mr 
Wooley, Commissioner of Lands, tells me that locally there 
has undoubtedly been a mixture a couple of generations 
back or more, and that many natives claim a Chinese father 
or grandfather. 

Granted that this is so, it cannot be taken as a proof of 
the assertion with regard to the Dusuns in general. The 
mixture appears to be purely local, and the locality is on the 
sea-coast. There is, of course, no barrier of custom or pre- 
judice preventing Chinese from intermarrying with Dusuns, 
and given a sufficient number of Chinese settlers, a mixed 
race would be sure to arise ; but I do not grant that we have 
any proof of there ever being a large Chinese population in 
the Tuaran or Tempassuk districts, or in the Interior. The 
supposed admixture of Chinese with natives, which is said to 
have given rise to the Dusuns, must, if it ever took place 
(which I do not beUeve), have occurred very much more than 
two or three generations ago, that being the period given 
by Mr Wooley for the Chinese-Dusun intermixture in and 
around the Klias Peninsula. 



JULY 4TH. — Went on board the s.s. Sandakan of the 
Straits Steamship Company at 7 a.m., and left Singa- 
pore at about 8 a.m. Not many passengers on board, 
and nobody that I knew when I was in Borneo before. 

July 5TH. — Weather good and a nice fresh breeze. 
Passed between the Natuna Islands. 

July 6th. — Nothing in particular to record. 

July 7TH. — Arrived at Miri in Sarawak, where there are 
oil wells. Went off to the shore in the Oil Company's 
launch shortly after arrival with E., one of the passengers ; 
got permission from the Company's manager to take a walk 
round their property. There are numerous wells, and some 
of the derricks on the surrounding hills can be seen from 
the anchorage. A pipe-line runs out to sea, from the end 
of which steamers are loaded. Climbed to the top of the 
hill with E. and one of the Oil Company's employees, who 
was kind enough to show us round. 

Took a few photographs of the wells and also of some 
Semanggang Dyak men. The Semanggang river is a 
tributary of the Batang Lupar. A number of these people 
have recently been imported to clear away grass and under- 
growth. They were wearing large sun-hats, short breeches 
of European-made blue material, and in some cases figured 
sleeveless coats of native-woven cloth, the ground colour of 
which was black, while the patterns were in white. They 
wore earrings of various types, and had some very nicely 
decorated bamboo boxes, used for holding tobacco. One 
man had a large silver button inserted in the upper edge of 
either ear, and the pair were joined together by a string of 
fine beads, which hung loosely under his chin. 

2()2 Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 

Tattoo marks of the kind known to the Sea Dyaks as 
kelingai ornamented many of the men's forearms ; star-like 
tattoo patterns were to be seen on the inner sides of the 
calves of their legs, and also V-shaped blocks of patterns on 
their throats. As, however, we had to hurry back to the 
launch, I had but little time to make observations. Left 
Miri at about 4 p.m. 

July 8th. — Arrived at Labuan Island shortly after day- 
break. Mount Kinabalu on the mainland was plainly visible. 
Labuan is said to be about ninety miles from the mountain. 
Went on shore before breakfast. Not much change to note 
since I was here last, except that the coal mines are no longer 
working. The little town is as clean and bright, and the 
island as pretty, as ever. Hunted for the Malay shop where 
I formerly bought some old silver-ware, but the owner seems 
to have removed to Brunei. Some modern Brunei brass- 
ware was on sale in one kedai^ and I purchased a small figure 
of a dragon, while two other passengers bought a large brass 
j/r^^-stand and a parang Hang (Dyak sword) respectively. 

Back to the ship for breakfast, and then went ashore 
again. Several Kadayan (?) women in the town, one with 
large silver buttons in the sleeves of her coat. All wore 
black lace head-coverings and short black jackets, and had 
open carrying-baskets on their backs. Returned to steamer 
and watched some Malays very cleverly spearing garfish, 
which were passing up and down near the lighter from 
which the Sandakan was loading coal. 

Went ashore again with E. at about 3 p.m. with the 
intention of reaching a Kadayan village, but we took a 
wrong turning and finally arrived in a Tutong settlement. 
Nothing was particularly worthy of note there, as the people 
are Mohammedans and very civilised, but the house walls, 
made of mid-ribs of palm leaves, laid horizontally, were 
interesting, and we also saw a nice carrying-basket orna- 
mented with patterns. Returned to the wharf at six o'clock 
via the old colliery railway. All night at Labuan. 

Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 293 

July 9TH. — Left Labuan at daylight, and after great 
trouble in coming alongside the wharf, owing to an old pile 
causing an obstruction, I landed at Jesselton just before 
4 P.M. Hurried off to the Treasury to get some money, of 
which I had run short, and luckily found it open. Back 
again to the Sandakan for dinner. Heard from various 
people that some of the Marudu Bay and Tempassuk natives 
have recently given trouble. They seem to have been 
Bajaus, Illanuns and Dusuns. A number of the insurgents 
were killed or captured near Pindasan, but things are now 
quiet, the trouble having occurred a couple of months ago. 
Owing to the restlessness of some of the Tempassuk people, 
the District Officer, North Keppel, has temporarily removed 
from Tuaran to Kotabelud. The junior officer is now 
stationed at Tuaran. 

Other news was that Haji Arsat (the head chief in the 
Tempassuk) has lately been given the title of Orang Kaya 
Kaya instead of Orang Kaya, which was his style in my 
time, and has been made Supernumerary Assistant Officer 
with 3rd Class Magistrate's powers ; also that the Kotabelud 
house, formerly built under my supervision, had been burned 
down through a fire which started in one of the bathrooms. 

Jesselton has changed a good deal since I was here last. 
A large amount of ground has been reclaimed, a reservoir 
constructed, the wharf improved and new buildings put up. 
Electric-light plant has been installed, and will soon be work- 
ing, while ice-making machinery is on order from England. 
There seem to have been several Government chiefs in the 
recent disturbances ; but I do not know which, if any, of my 
Tempassuk friends were mixed up in the affair. The leader 
of the enterprise was one Kulindad, Marudu district Dusun. 
Made arrangements at the Treasury for drawing money. 

July ioth. — Up to the Resident's office at 9.30 a.m. 
and talked over my plans with him. Telephoned to old 
Sergeant Genang at Tuaran and asked him to try and get 
me either my old Chinese cook or my former "boy" 

294 Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 

(Omboi). Genang says that he thinks the cook has gone 
to Jesselton. Omboi is at Tuaran and will probably come 
if I want him. Arranged to call up Genang at 3 p.m. for 
further information. Down to the wharf to get baggage 
off the Sandakan, M., who is in charge of the customs, 
kindly put my baggage through for me without any trouble, 
and further helped me by sending oiF one of his men to Gaya 
Island to try and arrange with some of the Orang Bernadan — 
i,e. Tawi Tawi Islanders, who are settled there — for a prahu 
to take me to the mouth of the Tempassuk river, for I have 
decided to go as far as I can by sea. Back from the steamer 
to the Rest House with E., who was my guest to lunch. 

Rang up Genang at Tuaran, who told me that Omboi 
was with him in the office. Asked him to let Omboi speak 
to me and made arrangements that he should start on foot 
for Jesselton to-morrow (distance said to be about twenty- 
four miles). Customs boatman came in saying that he has 
not been able to get a boat in Jesselton, but suggested that he 
should go to the market as early as possible to-morrow morning 
and get hold of some of the Bernadans when they come in 
with their fish. Out with E. to take some photographs of 
the town. Sandakan left for Kudat at about 6 p.m. 

July iith. — Out buying provisions in the morning. 
Omboi arrived at about 3.30 p.m. and the customs boatmen 
brought in some Bernadans a little later. These men, a 
crew of three, will take me in their boat to the Tempassuk 
for five dollars per man. Went to the club at 5 p.m., 
where I did not meet many people that I knew, and thence 


to the Resident's to dinner. My old District Officer 
with him, and I was very pleased to meet him again. This 
was a lucky chance, as he is now Resident of the Interior, 
and has come down for a few days after having a rough time 
in the Murut country, where there has been some pretty big 
fighting. Took a wrong turn on the hill in the dark on the 
way back from the Resident's, and, after wandering about 
for a long time, found a Chinaman's hut. Knocked up the 

Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 295 

occupant and got him to guide me to some place that I knew. 
Finally emerged on the railway not far from the hospital. 

July i2th. — Bernadan men in early with their boat, a 
strongly built tripod - masted prahu called a lipah-lipah. 
After finishing up various business got on board at twelve 
o'clock and started for the Tempassuk, calling in at the 
customs on the way to get a pass. Sailed on with a 
favourable wind past the mouths of the Inanan and 
Menggatal rivers. Anchored for a while off the Kuala 
Tuaran at dark owing to a storm from ahead, which was 
apparently coming on. However, it never reached us, and, 
the wind being again favourable, we sailed, and arrived at 
Kuala Abai some time before daylight. This the boatmen, 
who did not know the coast well, tried to persuade me 
was the mouth of the Tempassuk river, but I, seeing hills 
near the shore, told them that it could not be as there are 
no hills at the mouth of the Tempassuk. We therefore 
anchored till daybreak, and as soon as it was light found 
that I was right, and saw several boats coming out of the 
mouth of the Tempassuk, some distance ahead of us. 

July 13TH. — Made for the entrance of the river, passing 
several large boats (^prahu pakerangan)^ whose occupants 
were engaged in fishing with seine nets. One of my crew 
on entering the river threw a couple of handfuls of rice 
into the water as an oifering to the spirit of the stream. 
This he told me he had vowed to do should we arrive at 
our destination without trouble or mishap. We had a 
tedious and very hot journey up-river to Haji Arsat's house 
at Fort Alfred, sailing being impossible, and the boatmen 
tired. Haji Arsat at home to meet me. Had a long talk 
with him and learned the following news : — 

(i) That a new tax of twenty-five cents per annum is to 
be laid on all coco-nut-trees from which toddy is 
(2) That a tax is also to be put on tapai (rice wine). 
(Difticult to collect !) 

296 Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 

(3) That a veterinary surgeon now visits the Tempassuk. 

(4) That forced labour has been aboHshed, even with 

regard to the upkeep of bridle-paths. 

(5) That the rates of wages for coolies have been slightly 


(6) That a Dutchman and a Swiss are going prospecting 

for oil to Saiap (on a spur of Mount Kinabalu). 

(7) That the recent trouble arose partly from the demarca- 

tion of lands with a view to collecting quit-rent. 

(8) That the Dato Temenggong (a very old chief) is dead. 

Arranged to leave for Kotabelud the next day, the 
baggage going by buffaloes, and to call in at Tamu 
Timbang, it being market day, on the way. 

July 14TH. — To Tamu Timbang by boat with Haji Arsat. 
Many Bajaus there, but only a few Dusuns. Met various 
old acquaintances, and among them Saleh, my former clerk. 
Went round the market, but did not buy anything. On 
from the market to the shops, where I met Keruak (a Bajau 
headman) — he has been ill, and does not look fit even now 
— and Sirinan (a Dusun friend of mine), who, I thought, 
seemed glad to see me. Up to the office, into which I 
peeped — much the same as in my time. Met several police 
who were formerly under me. 

From the office to Arsat's Kotabelud house near the river, 
where I was to stay until I went up-country. Had a long 
talk with Sirinan. Much delay in getting food, as only 
three buffaloes turned up at Fort Alfred to take my baggage 
in the morning, though six were ordered ; however, the 
missing three with the rest of my stuff arrived before dark. 
Sat up till late talking with Arsat. The District Officer is at 
Pindasan settling up affairs after the trouble, but will return 
in a day or two ; so I shall wait to see him. 

July 15TH. — Up early, to the office with Arsat and then 
down to the shops, where I bought a fine old silver belt- 
clasp, an old brass (Brunei) kettle and some other articles. 

July i6th. — Around the shops. Picked up some 

Rice Field near Tambatuan. 

A little Dusun boy left in charge of articles deposited by his parents. The large carrying basket 

is used for holding padi or tubers ; upon it rests a spear with blade sheathed. The smaller basket 

is used for «mall personal belongings when going on a journey. 

Some Dusun Musical Instruments. 

These instruments are ordinarily played together. They consist of a set of dulcimer gongs, a 

drum, a flute, a nose- flute (one nostril is stopped with leaves when playing it), and two stringed 

instruments of bamboo, played by women. 

Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 297 

weapons and a small brass cannon in the pawnshop, and a 
shell- bracelet from a Bajau man. Up the hill with Sirinan 
to have a look at the burnt remains of my old house. 
Arsat off to Siraban on business. This village has now 
moved down to the flat land. There being a market 
to-day (Tamu Darat) many people have gone off to it. 

July 17TH. — B., the District Officer, returned from 
Pindasan. He was kind enough to send out a couple of 
police to beat up coolies for me. Lunch and dinner with 
B. He has, as pets, two young Orang-utans and a wah- 
wah monkey. Bought a cow for fifteen dollars from the 
Dato Meradan, had it killed and divided up, and portions 
given to the District Officer, the clerk, the police, the Chinese 
shopkeepers and the local headmen. Made arrangements 
for starting up-country to-morrow. 

July i8th. — Late in leaving Kotabelud, owing to the 
coolies not being up to time. (Our destination Tamu 
Darat, as I am in no hurry, and prefer to take things easily.) 
Passing Siraban, Perasan and Piasau, and following the 
bridle-path, we left the villages of Rangalau and Lasau 
behind us on the right, and Gaur, situated on a hill on the 
other side of the river, on the left. Thence past Pinasang 
(on the right). Below the village the flat lands on either 
side of the path have, this year, been ploughed for the 
planting of dry padi (kendingd). 

Our party consists of myself, Gimbad (a Dusun of some 
influence in Tempassuk village), Omboi (my boy), Tinggi 
(a Tuaran Dusun policeman), and fifteen Dusun coolies 
(Piasau and Tempassuk men). I allowed the coolies to get 
ahead, so as to have things ready on my arrival, and 
followed with Gimbad. 

Near Pinasang some Dusuns were hunting with dogs in 
a strip of jungle, which is separated from the bridle-path by 
a piece of undulating land covered with rough /alang-gmss. 
Just as we became aware of this, owing to the barking of 
the dogs, a large wild pig (a sow) broke covert and halted 

2g8 Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 

for a moment on a slight knoll. Seeing us, she ran ahead, 
crossed the bridle-path in front of us, and rushed down 
a hill into the river. Gimbad, immediately he saw her head- 
ing for the river, drew his parang and dashed oiF in pursuit. 
He followed her into the stream and wounded her in the 
back above the hind-quarters. She then turned on him and 
he wounded her in the snout. Finding that she was getting 
the worst of it, she started to swim away again, only to be 
wounded a second time in the back. After this Gimbad 
gave up the chase, and I watched the sow gain the opposite 
bank, wearily climb it, and disappear into some brushwood 
on the edge of a strip of jungle. By this time some of the 
hunters had come up, and they crossed the river, which was 
at that place only waist-deep, taking a dog with them. 
They also vanished into the brushwood, but in about three 
or four minutes they reappeared, dragging with them the 
pig's carcass. She had been too exhausted from loss of 
blood to go far, and a spear had given her the coup de gr^ce. 

From this place on to the Tamu Darat ground without 
further adventure. To-morrow we are to try and make 
Kabaiau, and I hope to set out earlier than I did to-day, 
as the walk was rather trying, owing to our starting late, 
and thus catching the full heat of the sun, for the bridle- 
path as far as Tamu Darat is almost without shade. 

19TH July, — From Tamu Darat ground to Kabaiau 
opis (halting-hut) — the word is derived from "office." 
Met a number of Tamis (Ulu Tuaran) coming down to 
trade hats, sireb, etc., and also another lot of Dusuns from 
Kaung Ulu. A probably stolen cow or buffalo had been 
killed on the bridle-path a few days ago, as witness a heap 
of dung and leafy branches put down in an attempt to 
cover the blood-stains. This was below Ghinambur 
Narinang village. Passed the villages of Bongul, Sempodan, 
Kabaiau, Lengkobang and Paka on the far side of the river 
and Ghinambur Maku-Paku, Ghinambur Baiaiat, Ghinambur 
Narinang and Lapan Tabobun on our side. Kabaiau opis 

Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 299 

and its neighbourhood in a very dirty state owing to up- 
country Dusuns stopping in it on the way to Tamu. 

July 2oth. — From Kabaiau to Tambatuan: some very 
fine views of Nabalu by the way. Left the bridle-path 
opposite Tambatuan village, and climbed down the hill-side 
through crops of kaladi to the wet-padi fields in the valley, 
where we found several women at work. 

The Tambatuan villagers do not use the plough in pre- 
paring these ranaU'^eXds for planting. The grass is cut 
short, and water is then let in from the river until the roots 
die. The ground is rather uneven, and there are some 
slight attempts at terracing. Forded the river — i,e, the 
Tempassuk or Kadamaian. 

Gumpus (the headman of Tambatuan), who had been 
warned of my arrival by the coolies, was awaiting me, and 
came over to help me across. Thence up the long and 
steep hill to Tambatuan village, rain coming on before we 
reached our destination. After a rest and some food I paid 
oif my coolies and Gimbad. Gumpus and crowds of villagers 
in at night. All went into fits of laughter on being shown 
their faces in my magnifying shaving-glass. Bought a good 
many specimens. To my disgust a Dusun dog stole a large 
and newly opened tinned tongue. As many pigs about as ever. 
Some sickness (dysentery ?) here, and also, I hear, at Kiau. 

July 2ist. — Developing photographs and buying speci- 
mens. Crowds of Dusuns in. A fashion in tattooing has 
set in here since my last visit, four years ago, due, I am given 
to understand, to a Dyak policeman having stopped in the 
village for some time. The patterns to be seen are, there- 
fore, chiefly debased forms of Sea Dyak designs and are not 
truly native to the country. Gumpus has quite covered 
himself with these pictures. We are living in a spare house 
of his, in which he stores his gongs, of which he is very 
proud. Rain all day long. 

July 2 2nd. — This day and to-morrow, Gumpus says, are 
Dusun tabu-days, no work being allowed to be done in 

300 Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 

the fields. Purchased a goat and had it killed for the 
benefit of the villagers. Out with Gumpus for a stroll 
round the village. Bought a large number of ethnographi- 
cal specimens, some of them very fine. I shall make my 
long stay here, and only put in a night or so at Kaung and 
Kiau. Continual rain from noon until long after dark. I 
go to bed very tired every night, as I scarcely have a 
minute's rest all day owing to the crowds of people who 
come to see me, talk, and sell things. They start arriving at 
six o'clock in the morning and the last of them leave me at 
about 10.30 or 11 p.m. However, I am very much pleased 
with things in general, and have no wish to check them. 
My only complaint is that there is so much to do, and so 
little time to do it in. Usual chorus of pigs under the house 
at night. Tinggi, the Tuaran Dusun policeman, seems 
quite a good fellow. Gumpus looks after me like a father. 

July 23RD. — Did not set foot outside all day long as I 
spent the first part of it in developing photographs, and then 
with Gumpus's help set to work to catalogue some of the 
things I have collected. Dusuns in with butterflies to sell. 
Usual rain in the afternoon. 

July 24TH. — Having given out that I would pay one cent 
for every butterfly brought to me in good condition, and 
two cents for large species, I have been overwhelmed by the 
amount of work the Dusuns have made for me. So many 
insects have been caught that I have had to throw away dozens 
of the commoner kinds. I have stopped buying ethnographical 
specimens, as I think that I have got nearly everything 
needful, and I shall run short of cash before getting back 
to supplies at Kotabelud unless I am careful. Went out in 
the early morning with Gumpus to take photographs of 
Mount Nunkok and of Kinabalu, also of two human skulls 
hung up outside a padi store. 

July 25TH. — A dull day with a high wind, probably the 
forerunner of a drought, of which the Dusuns will be 
very glad, as they are waiting to burn their clearings. Took 

Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 301 

some photographs. Spent some time with Gumpus talking 
about omen-birds and the meanings of the names of various 

July 26th. — Finished off naming and cataloguing speci- 
mens, Gumpus assisting me. Did some photographic work. 
This again is a Dusun tabu-day with regard to field-work. 

July 27TH. — This day of the month is called Limbas by 
the Dusuns. Work is allowable on wet-padi fields, but not 
on hill clearings. Gumpus, therefore, off to his ranau (wet- 
padi) fields. Developed some more photographs and took a 
stroll round the village. Found a spear set up in front of 
one house for the purpose of guarding against the spirits 
of disease. Got Omboi and Tinggi to tell me something 
of Tuaran burial and marriage customs. I was amused to 
watch a Dusun pig laboriously searching for, and collecting, 
the fallen leaves of coco-nut palms, which she made into a 
nest for her young. 

July 28th. — Another Dusun tabu-day. Did some photo- 
graphic work. Amused myself and the villagers by getting 
up some races for boys and girls, giving prizes of a few 
cents to the winners. Musical entertainment (gongs and 
drums) by Gumpus and other Dusuns at night. 

July 29TH. — Left Tambatuan for Kaung. One of the 
Tambatuan boys, who is mentally deficient, followed Gumpus 
and myself, who had started after the coolies. He was 
making a great fuss because his mother, one of my coolies, 
was leaving him. Gumpus called to him to go back, but he 
only went a little way, and then followed us again. I told 
Gumpus to call him to us and explain that it was all right 
and that his mother would be back to-morrow. However, 
he would not come, but kept just in sight of us through the 
bushes on the hill-side below the village, and, when we had 
crossed the Kadamaian and were scaling the hill on the 
opposite side to rea,ch the bridle-path, he was still to be 
heard lamenting by the river-side, where he had been joined 
by some other children. 

302 Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 

We had an abominable journey to Kaung, with floods of 
rain nearly the whole time, and were, of course, drenched 
through and through. I was shivering with the cold and 
wet, but Gumpus did not seem much disturbed. Managed 
somehow or other to get to Kaung opis^ where I found the 
coolies, Tinggi and Omboi had arrived safely; the latter, 
however, had nearly given in on the road and had occasion- 
ally to be pushed along by the coolies. However, we now 
seem fairly well recovered, and I hope that there will be no 
ill effects. Paid oif six coohes. Several Kaung men came over 
to see me. Bought some specimens from them. The river 
is in flood, but in spite of this several of the Kaung people 
crossed it, though others went round by a bamboo bridge 
which they have made a little way up-stream from the village. 

July 30TH. — Sent a messenger to Kiau to ask Ompo (an 
old friend of mine) to come and see me. I have decided not 
to go to his village, as the track is in a very bad state, and it 
is doubtful if I should do as much in the way of collecting 
specimens there as I can here, since Kiau is, comparatively 
speaking, frequently visited by Europeans, who are intent 
on climbing Nabalu. Ompo arrived at about 5 p.m. He 
seems very friendly and quite fit. Small toddy (bahr) party 
at night. Bought a number of ethnographical specimens. 
Settled to leave here the day after to-morrow. River still 
in flood after yesterday's rain, but fordable for local Dusuns. 
In the morning I crossed by the bridge to Kaung village, 
taking with me Gumpus, Tinggi and Omboi. Took some 
photographs, including the bridge, shoot fish-traps, village 
guardian-stones, head-house (containing two skulls in a 
basket), etc., etc. 

July 31ST. — Went over to Kaung with Ompo, Tinggi, 
Gumpus and Omboi, crossing by the river, which has now 
gone down. Climbed to the upper part of the village, which 
I had not visited before. Another head-house there, the 
human skulls, contained in a basket, being mixed with several 
of those of the Orang-Utan. There are two head-houses in 

Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 303 

the lower village, each containing a couple of skulls, but one of 
them has fallen down. Took more photographs and bought a 
number of specimens. Ompo returned to Kiau this evening. 

August ist. — Left Kaung for Gumpus's ranau sulap — 
ue, watching-hut on the wet-padi fields — below Tambatuan 
village and arrived there. Not a troublesome journey when 
done in dry weather, as to-day. Since there has been no 
rain for the last few days, Gumpus and some of the Tam- 
batuan men want to burn off their clearings to-morrow, and 
the former has asked me to continue my journey on the day 
after. This I have consented to do, with the proviso that I 
pay no wages for to-morrow. In this hut there is hanging 
up, under the thatch, a small bamboo trough, which was 
used as a receptacle for last year's rice soul Qnembaraian), 
and close to it, and stuck into the thatch, are two small 
bamboo knives with which the rice soul was reaped. I have 
asked Gumpus to let me have all these. A few of the Kiau 
people, and one Tambatuan man, being afraid that it may 
rain to-morrow, have burned their clearings to-day, but I 
doubt if they have been very successful, as the wood is not 
yet sufficiently dry after the heavy rains of a few days ago. 

August 2nd. — At Gumpus's sulap. Extensive burnings 
of felled jungle to-day. One burnt on the hill near us 
excellent. Several Dusuns, chiefly Kaung Ulu men, passed 
by on their way to Tamu Timbang. Gumpus, who has 
burned his clearing, but not very successfully, came in to- 
wards evening, bringing with him a bamboo of rice wine. 
He says that he will have five days' work collecting the 
unburn t wood on his clearing for a second firing. I noticed 
that a single tree has been left unfelled in a clearing near 
us, and thinking it probable that there might be some super- 
stitious reason for this, asked a Dusun why it had not been 
cut down. He replied that it was left as a perching-place 
for the birds, as, if there was no tree left for them in the 
clearing, they might curse the crop. Sand-flies and horse- 
flies here in plenty, and sleep difficult. 

304 Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 

August jrd. — Left Gumpus's ranau sulap for Kabaiau 
(about four miles away) and arrived there. To-morrow I 
hope to reach Ghinambur Narinang, so as to take raft from 
there to Kotabelud on the day following. I am sending oiF 
a couple of lightly laden coolies early to-morrow to tell 
the Narinang people to make the raft. On the way to 
Kotabelud I intend to call in at Tamu Darat, the day after 
to-morrow being market day. During the early part of 
to-day all the country towards Tamu Darat was obscured 
by clouds of smoke, as the Dusuns there are burning off 
their clearings, being afraid that rain is coming. 

August 4TH. — From Kabaiau to Ghinambur Laut, 
Stopped at Ghinambur Narinang by the way to inquire if 
there was a possibility of getting a raft, having sent off two 
coolies early as I purposed yesterday. Found that there 
were no bamboos in the neighbourhood and that it was 
therefore impossible to construct one. Journey as far as 
Narinang not unpleasant, but from Narinang to Ghinambur 
Laut the path was rough and the sun hot. On arrival I 
heard that several rafts belonging to the Kabaiau people are 
moored at the mouth of the Penataran river, and that their 
makers are coming down to Tamu Darat on them to-morrow. 

The Ghinambur opis is now in ruins. The village, 
though not visible from the bridle-path, is only a few chains 
distant on the other side of a small strip of jungle. Put up 
in a rather small Dusun house. Everybody here (and else- 
where) very much exercised about the new twenty-live-cent 
tax on coco-nut-trees used for obtaining bahr. Got some 
excellent oranges, which I did not know grew lower down 
the Tempassuk valley than Kiau and Tambatuan, and also 
several durians. (The orange-tree seedlings seem to have 
been obtained from Kiau.) 

August 5TH. — Left Ghinambur Laut for Tamu Darat 
and arrived there. A very small market to-day, as the up- 
country Dusuns are busy working on their clearings. The 
Swiss oil-man turned up in the Tamu. He is on his way to 

Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 305 

Kabaiau. Haji Arsat, Keruak, Bagu, Sirinan, ex-sergeant 
Lakui and other old friends of mine at market. Left the 
Tamu by rafts, Gumpus and Omboi on one, I on another. 
Arrived at Kotabelud in the afternoon. The District Officer 
away in Jesselton. 

August 6th. — Nothing particular doing. Drew some 
money and paid off my coolies. Sangin (a Bajau, and an old 
friend) came in towards evening from Kagurhan, to which 
place he has removed from Kotabelud. Had a chat with him 
and told him to let me see some brass-ware, which he wants 
to sell to-morrow. Sirinan also in for a talk, bringing with 
him a very nicely made model of a Dusun plough. Bought 
an old Chinese jar and a stone implement from a Bajau, and 
a couple of large and fine sun-hats, made by the Tamis (Ulu 
Tuaran) people, in the shops. We are putting up in a 
newly erected bungalow on the top of Kotabelud hill, which 
is situated between the fort and the site of my old house. 

August 7TH. — Arranged with Sangin to buy some of his 
brass-ware. Repacking Dusun collections with Omboi. 

August 8th. — Sangin came in with his brass-ware and the 
Illanun loom (with half-completed cloth) which I asked him 
to get for me. Arranged with Sirinan to go to Kampong 
Tempassuk to-morrow to try and excavate the reputed site 
of an old village. 

August 9TH. — Left Kotabelud with Sirinan at about 
8 A.M. Crossed the river at Gunding and, from there, 
walked to Gimbad's house at Tempassuk. On nearing the 
village we came to his irrigation canal, quite a big affair. I 
noticed that in one place its banks were considerably higher 
than elsewhere, and immediately suspected that this was the 
place where he said his canal had cut through an old house 
site. On Gimbad joining us, I found that I was correct in 
my surmise. The banks of the canal at this place were 
strewn with bits of coarse and thick pottery, different from 
that made by the Dusuns at the present day. 

Gimbad and Sirinan picked up several yellow glass or 

3o6 Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 

paste beads, like those which the Dusuns still value ; but 
we saw no fragments of Chinese pottery. We also found 
two stones (naturally rounded by river action) which had 
evidently been selected because of their shape for some 
purpose or other. Possibly they were used for potting 
stones, but they are much larger than the pebbles employed 
for that purpose by the modern Dusuns. After trying the 
soil here and there with the changkol^ and seemingly ex- 
hausting the possibilities of the site, we repaired to Gimbad's 
house, where he produced another bead (blue), which he 
had found while making his canal, and a fairly large, flattish 
piece of brass ornamented with some rudely cast patterns. 
This and the bead I purchased. 

Another interesting object found on the same site was 
also produced, but the man who owned it refused to part 
with it. This was a well-shaped little hone or cleaning- 
stone with a hole bored in it at one end to enable it to be 
suspended from a cord. Its length was about five inches 
and its breadth about seven-eighths of an inch, while it may 
have been one-third of an inch in thickness. The stone of 
which it was composed was greenish brown, fine-grained 
and fairly hard. Leaving Tempassuk, where we had been 
regaled with a meal of rice and small boiled fish (both dried 
and fresh) and with rice cooked with Indian corn, all washed 
down by a plentiful supply of bahr^ we made for Bunsud's 
house at Tamboulian, but unluckily found him out. 

However, his lieutenant Lipatan welcomed and entertained 
us. From Tamboulian we made our way to Piasau, where we 
called in at Ransab's, but he also was out. Left Sirinan in the 
village (his own), and returned to Kotabelud with the coolie 
that I had taken with me in the morning to help in excavating. 

August ioth. — Bought rather a nice old brass betel-box 
in one of the Chinese shops. I was sitting talking with 
Sirinan and a Bajau in the evening outside our hut when 
a small snake glided past, close to Sirinan, going in the 
direction of the house. Its colour was black, and I suspected 

'* I 

Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 307 

that it was a cobra, as they are common on the grassy hills 
round Kotabelud. In this I turned out to be correct, for it 
puffed out quite a large hood when Omboi and the Bajau 
set to work to dispatch it with sticks. 

August i ith. — Bought a large Illanun sword and a 
Tridacna shell-bracelet from Kalud, and a long, Illanun type, 
shield (klasug) from Sirinan. The latter went off to Usakan to 
superintend some repairs to the wooden jetty, which was always 
giving trouble in my time. Went down to meet Haji Arsat at 
the shops in the evening, and made a few purchases. Lipatan 
and another Dusun in the babr (toddy) at about midday. 

. August i 2Th. — To Tamu Timbang in the early morning, 
where I took a few photographs of the market. No fish to 
be obtained, as Omboi and I were late in getting there and 
everything had been bought up by the Chinese, and by the 
Bajaus, who were preparing for their Hari Raya festival, 
which, in most villages, is to be celebrated to-morrow. 
Bought a sun-hat of a type I wanted in the market and also 
a newly cast Illanun horse-bit (brass). Sampled some Bajau 
penjarom cakes and then home. 

One Bernadan (Tawi Tawi) dapong (large, double out- 
rigger boat) turned up to the market, which is held by the 
river-side, and I have arranged, through Haji Arsat, who 
was also at the Tamu, for three of these craft to await me 
at Tamu Timbang ground on Sunday, with a view to sailing 
for Mengkabong on Monday morning. The hair of the 
Orang Bernadans' children, two of whom were on board, 
has quite a red tinge, due, I suppose, to constant exposure 
to sea breezes and salt water. 

The Bernadans that I have seen so far are of a lower type 
than the Bajaus; their skin colour is dark through constant 
exposure, and their eyes are small, roving and glittering: 
forehead low and features animalian. 

On arrival at Kotabelud I found Sangin waiting for me, 
and paid him for the specimens that I took from him the 
other day. Bought a stone implement of a rare type from a 

3o8 Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 

Bajau, who also brought in a very nice old green crackle- 
ware Chinese dish for which he asked ten dollars. I 
offered two dollars, but this was refused, but I subsequently- 
got it for three dollars. Bengali, Gimbad and two other 
Tempassuk Dusuns in with a present of bahr^ which we 
consumed between us. Numerous flights of green pigeon 
passed under the house after tea. 

I was sitting outside watching these when Dr H., the oil 
expert, came by on his way to Haji Arsat's house, having 
just come in from Saiap, where he had gone (via Melangkap) 
from Kabaiau. I showed him the stone implement bought 
to-day and he seemed surprised, saying that there was a 
nephrite (the mineral of which the implement is made) hill 
in the neighbourhood of Tempassuk village. We are to 
visit this on Friday to see if we can find signs of the stone 
having been worked. I also mentioned the radiolarian chert 
flakes, which are to be found on Kotabelud hill, and we are 
to search for some of these to-morrow. 

August 13TH. — Out with Dr H. to the end of Kotabelud 
hill in search of chert flakes, of which we found several. 
From there to the shops to buy Illanun cloths, and then to 
Koruak's village to take photographs of Hari Raya festivities. 
The District Officer returned to-day and came round to see 
me towards evening. Dinner with the District Officer. 

August 14TH. — Down to Haji Arsat's house to see Dr 
H., who is foot-sore from his journey up-country. Thence 
to the shops to pay some bills, and then to Diki's Kampong 
at Perasan to take photographs of the Aari Raya celebrations. 

August 15TH. — Rather a bad attack of fever. Gimbad, 
Sirinan, Lipatan, Bengali and other Dusuns came in to see 
me, bringing bahr with them, but I was not fit enough to 
talk very much to them. 

August i6th. — Still fever. The Bernadans' boats have 
not yet come in. Left for Haji Arsat's house at Fort 
Alfred and arrived there feeling very much done up. Our 
three boats in towards evening. 

Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 309 

August 17TH. — Still fever. Left Arsat's house at about 
3 P.M. Omboi and I in one boat, heavy baggage in the 
other two. Anchored off Ambong at night. 

August i 8th. — Winds contrary and going therefore slow. 
Landed once to get firewood and once for water. Anchored 
for the night at the mouth of the Mengkabong river. 

August 19TH. — Up the Mengkabong river to Mengka- 
bong village. Omboi off to Tuaran to see his wife. I, 
being still unwell and weak from not eating, did not go, 
though I should have liked to have done so. Took a 
number of photographs of the village. Rain all afternoon. 
Left towards night for Jesselton and anchored till daybreak 
under an island within sight of that place. 

August 2oth. — Sailed into Jesselton, gave up pass at 
the customs office and landed close to the Rest House. 

August 2ist. — Repacking specimens. Visited one 'or 
two people whom I knew formerly. 

August 2 2nd. — To dinner at W.'s to see his excellent 
collection of brass-ware. 

August 24TH. — Left Jesselton for Papar by the eight 
o'clock train. The railway between Jesselton and Papar 
passes partly through mangrove swamps, partly along the 
seashore and partly through padi-fields owned by Dusuns 
and Bajaus. Arrived at Papar, made my way to the pawn- 
shop, always the first place I visit in a settlement, and 
picked up some nice pieces of brass-ware. In another 
Chinese shop I purchased a locally made Dusun sun-hat 
decorated with fine patterns, and a very heavy and beauti- 
fully worked brass betel-casket of a type of which I had 
long wanted to get an example. Many of the Dusuns here 
have become Christians, there being a Roman Catholic 
mission station in the vicinity, others are converts to Islam. 

Externally, in their manners, I did not think that they 
compared favourably with their less civilised brothers, but 
perhaps the improvement is internal only, and thus not 
visible on the surface. Land in Papar seems to be at a 

3IO Diary of a Journey to Kinabalu 

premium, and the little township presents quite a busy 
appearance. The Chinese here grow vegetables for Jessel- 
ton market ; otherwise I do not know how they live, unless it 
is by taking in one another's washing. The new bridge over 
the Papar river is the great engineering work of Borneo. 

Met M. in the Rest House, where I went to get a drink. 
He and I came out on the same boat to Borneo together as 
cadets. He very kindly gave me tiffin and sent his boy with 
me to a Dusun house to see some old jars, among which, 
however, there were no true Gusis, The return train to 
Jesselton was over two hours late, but did eventually arrive. 
The scenery along the line is rather fine in places, especially 
where the railway runs near the coast. Both Dusuns and 
Bajaus seem to be late in planting their padi, they still being 
at work ploughing and harrowing in some places. 

August 25TH. — Finished packing. Said good-bye to the 
Resident and to some other people. Went on board the 
s.s. Selangor at about 4 p.m. Heavy rain all day. The boat 
will not sail till 3 p.m. to-morrow, though the advertised time 
is 5 P.M. to-day. 

August 26th. — Left Jesselton. Anchored till daylight 
oiF some small island. 

August 27TH. — Weighed anchor at about 5 a.m. for 
Labuan and arrived at about half-past ten. Decided not 
to stop in Labuan (as I had intended to do). Omboi had, 
therefore, to be sent back to Tuaran. Luckily I found a 
launch which was about to leave for Weston on the main- 
land ; so, putting him on board, I gave him directions for 
reaching Jesselton via Beaufort. 

August 2 8th. — Arrived at Miri early in the morning, 
but only stopped to take off mails. 

August 29TH. — Beautiful weather. Passed some islands 
(?the Natunas) at 12 a.m. 

August 30TH. — Arrived at Singapore. 




(i) Bengkahak 

(2) Paka 

(3) Kinsaroban 

or Kinsiraban 

(4) Lengkobang 

(5) Bundu 

(6) Tambulian 

(7) Tambatuan 

(8) Penalabu 

(9) Senimpodan 

(a village) 

(10) Piasau 

(11) Tiong 

(12) Rangalau 

(13) Nahabah 



(14) Tempassuk (river and village) 

from bengkahak^ a crow. 
,, pakoy lalangy grass. 

„ saroh, to burn. 

,, kuhang, a. pass between 

,, bunduy a kind of mango 

,, u/i or mulij to go home. 

,, tambatuan, a kind of 
grass or bamboo. 

,, imlabu, a hole which 
goes through. 

,, senimpody to swallow. 
There is a legend 
that a child was once 
swallowed at this 
place by a kind of 
fish called balus. 

,, piasau y a coco-nut-tree. 
,, tiong y a deep pool. 

,, rangalauy 2l kind of tree 
and fruit. 

,, na-habahy fallen (of a 
tree): i.e. the village 
would thus be the 
place of the fallen 
Said to be so called 
from a whirlpool 
which the Bajaus 
made in the river 
by means of magic. 








Head Length 




Dusun of 



188 mm. 

138 mm. 






183 „ 

144 >» 





196 „ 

139 » 





178 „ 

134 » 





186 „ 

142 „ 





180 „ 

134 >, 





201 „ 

148 „ 





188 „ 

147 »» 





192 „ 

142 „ 





178 „ 

143 » 





181 „ 

137 ,y 





188 „ 

144 »» 





188 „ 

141 »> 





182 „ 

141 »» 





177 », 

138 ,, 





183 „ 

143 ,» 





180 „ 

142 „ 






181 „ 

143 »» 





191 »» 

142 „ 






Malay, not being the mother tongue of this part of Borneo, 
although it is the lingua /ra/ica, as might be expected, is spoken 
extremely badly. Various words are used which are unknown in 
the Malay of the Peninsula. Possibly they may occur in the native 
languages, or in the patois of the Bruneis, who naturally speak a 
Malay dialect. Some of these words are given below : 

( I ) Bubuty to pursue {hamhat or kejar of the Peninsula Malays). 
(1) Tagi, to dun a man who is in debt. 

Appendices 313 

(3) Kelaleiy to recognise. 

(4) Gagau, to be busy, to be worried by having too much work 

to do. 

(5) Balousiry to run (used of either men or horses). 

(6) Bangkar, a raft (rakit in the Malay Peninsula). 

(7) Siring f edge — i.e. of a river, a box, etc. {tepi in the Malay 


(8) Kahan, a box. 

I have remarked elsewhere on the difficulty the Dusuns seem to 
have in pronouncing ch, and the way they have of turning it into 
J- or h. 

Other peculiarities are that a final k is pronounced clearly, and not 
half swallowed (glottal cheek), until it sounds like a mixture 
between an h and a ky as in the Peninsula, and that in some words 
in which there are r's and /'s these letters become curiously 
transposed. Thus the ordinary Malay words seluar (trousers) 
become serual, lapar (hungry) rapaU luar (outside) r/W, etc. 

Abbreviations are not so commonly used as in the Peninsula, 
where tidak mou (don't want) usually becomes tamou and //^ ada 
(there is not) t^ada. 

The word dengan, which in the Malay Peninsula frequently means 
ivith {sahya potong dengan parang, I cut it with a parang), in the 
mouths of the Dusuns hQComesj afigan {sahya potong jangan parang). 





Agriculture, 27 

Antique jars, 270 

Ants, 58 

A.queduct, native, 50 

^.tmosphere in the jungle, 61 

Jajau houses, 214 
3ajau occupations, 216 
3ajau and Illanun women, 198 
3ajau boatmen, 69 

Bajaus and Illanuns, character of, 22 
Bajaus, 194; improvidence of, 138; 
labourers, 38, 52 

Bamboo, the, 60 

Bamboo forests, 61 

Banjo, Dusun, 131 

Banyan, the, 165 

Basket-making, 233 

Baskets, 150 

Beads, old, value of, 144 

Beaufort, 44 

Beer, 223 

Bees, 98 

Beeswax, legend of the, 179 

Beginningof the World, Legend of, 1 75 

Berian or purchase price for wife, 122, 
123, 136 

Big game, 58 

Bird scares, 104, 201 

Birds, 57 

Birds'-nests, edible, 42 

Blacksmiths, 148, 235 

Blatek, origin of the, 181 

Blood brotherhood, 168 

Blow-pipe, the, 190 

Boats, native, 68 

Bongkas or beads, 145 

Borneo, physical geography of, 18 

Borneo, 17 

Bracelets and armlets, 92, 234 

Brass cannon, 256 

Brass-casting, 151, 234 

Brass ornaments, 92 

Bridle-paths, 44 

British North Borneo, 17, 19 

Brunei, 17 

Brunei brass-work, 292 
Buffaloes, value of, 137 
Buffalo-riding, 62 
Buffalo-stealing, 84 
Butterflies, 57, 300 

Calendar of good and bad days^ 166 

Casting-net, 203 

Cats, 98 

Cattle, export of, 237 

Cattle in the Tempassuk, 51, 202 

Census of 191 1, 54 

Centipedes and scorpions, 59 

Ceremonial dress, 158 

Chain-mail, 255 

Charms, stone implements as, 268 

Characteristics of the people, 28 

Charm-belts, 164 

Chartered Company, 19, 42 

Chieftains, 219 

Chinese names in Borneo, 281 

Chinese, influence of, 18, 34, 78, 141, 

143, 199, 229, 274 
Civilisation, influence of, 3 1 
Climate, 19 

Cloth, Dusun, 148, 211, 230 
Clothing and hairdressing of women, 

Coastal people, the, 28 
Cock-fighting, 238 
Coco-nut oil, 222 
Coco palms, 41 
Coffins, 227 

Communal dwellings, 94, 96 
Contracts and treatment of the coolies, 

Cooking lamp, the, 66 
Cooking, Dusun, 100, 113, 217 
Coolies, recruiting, 38, 64 
Copper, 36 
Courtship, 123 
Crime, 218 
Crocodile shooting, 74 
Crops, various, 106 


Cruelty to animals, 97 

" Crusader " sword, the, 253 

Currency, 136 

Damar gum, 42 

Dancing, Dusun, 134, 243 

Death, 129 

Debt amongst coolies, 39 

Deer drives, 107 

Dent, Sir A., 20 

Desertion amongst coolies, 39 

Dish-covers, 233 

Divorce, 122, 228 

Dogs, 97 

Dress of the Bajaus, 209 

Dress, ceremonial, 158 

Dress, women's, 91 

Drink, native-brewed, 82, 117 

Drums, 133 

Duit buis or poll-tax, 220 

Dusun costume, 88 

Dusun custom, origin of a, 176 

Dusun women, 8 1 

Dusuns, the, 35, 37, 53, 79, g^, 

loo, 237 
Dutch, the, 20 

Duties, import and export, 42 
Dyes, 230 
Dynamite fishing, no 

Ear ornaments, 91 
Earth, edible, 1 1 5 
Embroidery, 233 
Epidemics, 31 
Epilepsy, 167 
Epiphytes, 61 
Evil influences, 77 
Expensive weapons, 242 

Fighting on land, 265 

Fish-traps, 108 

Fishing 108, 109, 110,203,204 

r lutes, bamboo, 131 

Folk-tales, 87, 170,251 

Food, 216, 228 

Forest growth, secondary, 206 

Frogs, curious, 59 

Fruit, 222 

Funerals, 124 

Gambling, 52, 198, 240 
Games, 241 


Gayang, the, 190 

Girdles, 91 

Gobang or dug-out, 68 

Gold, 36 

Gongs and drums, 130, 245 

Government chiefs, 72, 219 

Grass-fires, 206 

Graves, 227 

"Guests" of the Government, 84 

G«x;/ or sacred jars, 153, 156 

Hagi Orang Kaya Kaya Mohamme 
Arsat, 219 

Hairdressing, 90, 92, 211 

^ajisy 248 

Halting-huts, 68 

Hari Raya, 250 

Harrow, Dusun, 104 

Hats and hoods, 91, 146 

Head-cloths, 89, 231 

Head-houses, 188 

Head-hunting, religious aspects of, 
86, 159,186 

Headman, village, 73, 10 1 
High food, 1 1 3 
Hill padi, 105 
Honey, 99 
Hospitality, 67 
Houses, native, 67, 93 
House-horns, 96 
Humour, sense of, 3 1 
Hunting, 205 

Ilan bilis, 204 
Illanun chiefs, 220 
Illanuns, the, 53, 196 
Imported articles, 43, 52 
Inheritance, 227 
Intoxicants, 32, 116, 120, 223 
Irrigation canal, 305 

« Jack-of-all-trades,'* a, 72 

Jackets, 91 

Jars as coffins, 127 

Jesselton, 293 

Jewellery, personal, 210 

Jews' harps, 1 3 1 

Jungle, the Eastern, 41, 56, 61, 6c, 
139 i' 

Jungle-crabs, 59 



^adut tubers, 112 

aladi tubers, 1 06 
^aung, 302 
leruak, 47 

Linabalu, Mount, 17, 47, 125 
Uasug or shield, the, 254 

^ongsi or trade union, 78 

knives, 149 
[.otabelud, 45, 47 
ifm, Malay, 190, 254 

^ABOUR, 37 

abuan, 292 
Wa«f -grass, 206 

azy woman, legend of the, 183 
-.eeches, 58 

ife in the jungle, 56 

ime-burning, 236 
LimpaJa-tree, 164 
Loom, Dusun, 147, 231 

VIad persons, reverence for, 157, 167 

Vlanganese, 37 

lilantanani Islands, 47 

Manufactures, 146 

Wlarriage ceremony, 225 

Maoris, the, a comparison, 34 

Markets, 140 

Marriage, 122 

Mat-making, 233 

Mat Saleh, 22, 25, 188 

Matriarchy, 226 

Medicine and magic, 251 

Mcnghaji, 155 

Mengkabong river, 45 

Millipedes, 59 

Minerals, 36 

Mohogy 155 

Mohammedan natives, 30 

Molluscs and crustaceans, 204 

Monkeys as pets, 97 

Mosque, officers of the, 250 

Mosques, 215, 250 

Mother-of-pearl, 205 

Musical instruments, 131 

Native craftsman, the, 229 
Natives, attitude of the, 24 
Nonok Kurgung, Legend of, 180 

Officers of the Chartered Company, 

Officials, European, 72 
Oil wells at Miri, 291 
Omen-animals, 152 
Omens, 165 

Omnivorous eaters, the Dusuns, 1 12 
Opium-smoking, 52, 223 
Orang Dusuns, 35, 79 
Orang-utan, story of the, 174 
Organ, Dusun, 132 
Ornaments, female, 212 
Ornaments, personal, 89 
Out-stations, 71, 73 

Padded and quilted coats, 255 

Padi, cultivation of, lOi, 201 

Palms, 60 

Parangs^ 65, 1 48 

Parang ilangj the, 1 49, 1 89 

" Path of the Ghosts,*' 1 26 

Pawnshops, 199, 241 

Pearls, 205 

Pedang, the, 189 

Pepper, 41 * 

Perasan, 48 

Personal names, tabu on, 168 

Pestle and mortar, the, 100 

Pida or barong, 189, 254 

Pigafetta, Antonio, 1 8 

Pigs, 73»98 

Pikul, value of the, 225 

Piracy, 257 

Pirate prahu, a, 256 

Pit-traps, 107 

Plough, Dusun, 103 

Police, the, 5 5 

Poll-tax, 42 

Ponies, native, 51 

Population, 27, 33 

Portuguese, the, 18 

Pottery, 148, 236 

Priestesses, dress of, i 59 

Prisoners in gaol, death-rate of, 85 

Produce cultivated and manufactured. 

Provisions, 65 

Racing, 243 
Rafting, 69 
Rafts for spirits, 251 
Ramadan fast, the, 249 
Rattan palm, the, 60 

3i8 Index 

Reaping, 104 
Religious impostors, 248 
Religious rites, 1 5 3 
Religion, 247 
Revenue, 42 
Rice, dry, 105 
Rice, wet, 103 
Rice the staple diet, 1 14 
Rubber, 37 

Sacred trees, 164 

Saddle, native, 63 

Sagit, paying, 169 

Sago, 41 

Saint in Sumatra, story of a, 29 

Salt-making, 235 

Sarawak, 17 

Sarips, 220 

Semanggang Dyaks, 291 

Servants, 77 

Sharips, 248 

Shields, 190 

Shifts, constant, 7 5 

Sickness, offerings in, 1 68 

Silver-work, 212 

Singing, Dusun, 134 

Singarun, 49 

Sirrh'hoxcs, 89, 234 

5'/r^^-chewing, 1 1 5 

Sirinan, 80 

Skulls and bones, habit of preserving, 

Sleeping-cloth, 232 
Small-pox, dread of, 166 
Snakes, 58 
Snares and traps, 208 
Spaniards, the, 18 
Spears, 191, 149, 255 
Spear-traps, 86, 107 
Spirits, the propitiation of, 152, 154 
** Splashing,** fishing by, 110 
Stimulants, 223 

Stone implements, antique, 266 
Store-bins, 96 
Sugar-cane, 202 
Sulaman, 50 
Sultans of Sulu and Brunei, 20, 23 

Sun-hats, 89, 212 

Supreme Deity, Dusun idea of, 152 

Tabus, 153, 163, 168 

Tambatuan, 299 

Tapai cakes, 222 

Tapai, native intoxicant drink, 1 19 

Tattooing, 162, 299 

Telegraphic system, 44 

Tempassuk district, the, 48, 51 

Tempassuk river, T7, 47 

Tenumpok or model of head, 161 

** Thunder teeth,'* 267 

Timber, 41, 60 

Timber, destruction of, 206 

Tinned provisions, 66 

Tobacco, 37, 116, 144 

Toddy, coco-nut-palm, 67, 118 

Tooth-filing, 90 

Traps, 106 

Travelling in Borneo, 62, 70, 74 

Tree-ferns, 61 

Trees, sacred, 164 

Tuaran, 45, 46, 50 

Tuaran river, 17 

Tutong settlement, a, 292 

Unpleasant happenings, 76 
Unredeemed pledges, 242 
Up-country people, 28 

Varthema, 18 
Vegetables, 65, 221 
Villages, Dusun, 93, 213 

Wallows, 64 

War coats and helmets, 192 

War tabus, 163 

Water-buffaloes, 63 

Water vessels, 1 1 4 

Wealth, forms of, 135 

Weapons, the manufacture of, 189, 25; 

Whistle, Dusun, 133 

Windows, 95 

Women, liberty of, 197, 211 

Women and religious ceremonies, 15^ 

Working-knife or parang, 212 

Printed in Great Britain by thk Riverside Pre^s Limited 



^emy 8ro. With many Illustrations &> a Map. 12/. 6ti. n etu 



he beauties of the country, the life, habits & humour of its 
ihabitants, fif an account of the rehabilitation of a once down- 
trodden people 



With an Introduction by 


Author of "The Adventures of the Dunster Force." 

' Really asclnating:."— 7/jg Times. " A delightful book."- Saturday Review. 
First-rsite."— British Weelfly. " This is no ordinary book."— CAmf/an Worlt/. 

I" An engrossing narrative with superb photographs."— ZJwnrfee Courier. 
"A really fascinating account of the author's great life-work at Srinagar, giving the impression 
that HERE IS A MAN WHOM IT WOULD BE GOOD TO KNOW. Prfferring deeds to 
words and duty to dogma, he taught Brahmans and Mohammedans to swim, to box, to build 
I boats, and to play football; but he nas done even more, for he taught his pupils that they must use 
I their stren^h in the service of their neighbours. All this has been accomplished by a combination 
I of persuasive eloquence and a strong right arm, not without use of the singlestick, but more 
than all by example and firm belief ia ideals. It is the justification and embodiment of British 
irule in the East —Tht Times. 

"General Dunsterville d«scribes the author as 'A BORN OPTIMIST, A STRONG, 
I SPORTSMANSHIP, AND INDOMITABLE COURAGE.' It is a compliment to be described 
as a brave man by the laader of the Dunster Force, that very remarkable Expedition to Baku. 
The humour is quiet and entertaining. Acts of physical courage appear as incidents of ordinary 
life."— Wtstminster Gazttte. 

" Peculiarly breezy and most unconventional. CLEARLY A MISSIONARY WHO CHFER- 
WITH A GLANCE, IS NO ORDINARY PERSON. 1 his is no ordinary book. It is 
provocative, at times startling, but always forcible, lively and always full of new Information."— 
Christian World. 


Demy Svo. With Illustrations & Plans, Price S2s, Nett 


The Inner History of the Critical Years in the Evolution 

of Japan when the Ports were opened and the Monarchy 

restored, recorded by a Diplomatist who took an active 

part in the events of the time, with an account 

of his personal experiences during that period 



P.O., GC.M.Q., LL.D., D.C.L. 

British Minister at Peking, 1900-5 
Formerly Secretary of the British Legation at Tokio. 

The Family Crest of the Tokugawa SHdci'NS. 


" A truly remarkable leries of impressions of memorable and notable scenes." 

Sheffield Indrpenifent. 

AUTHORITY OF A CHIEF ACTOR in the scenes that he narrates. ... He played 
his part not infrequently at the risk of his own \\i^"— Times. 

"The renascence of Japan is unique in medera history. Half a century ago the 
country was governed by a feudal system more ancient than mediaevalism. . . . The story 
of this wondenul transformation is told by Sir Ernest Satow who lired through it, and 
played a notable part in bringing it about. . . . Sir Ernest Satow recalls and will 

g reserve a thousand details ef a story the like of which has never been conceived in 
ction. . . . Like his friend and colleague, the late Lord Redesdale, Sir Ernest Satow 
varied his ofHcial life in Japan with risky excursions full of incident and unconventionality. 
THAT HAS APPEARED since Lord Redesdale's fameus book, which was based in 
part upon Sir Ernest's lively ^w^xj"— Yorkshire Post. 

"A REMARKABLE BOOK. . . . The author has the ability to make his history 
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business with all classes of people from the temporal and spiritual rulers down to the 
humblest of the people. . . . Most valuable. ... A book to be read with interest and 
profit by .ail who have to do with Japan." — Dundee Courier. 

" Sir Ernest penetrated the veil." — London and China Express. 

"Not the least interesting part of the book consists of the glimpses it gives into the 
inner workings of ^v^Xom^cy."— Manchester Guardian. 


ttfiPiNG SECT. MAR 4 1982 



Evans, Ivor Hu^ Norman 

Among primitive peoples 
in Borneo